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More Evidence Cancer Drug Avastin May Cause Harm
Date:2/2/2011

nt increased risk, the investigators found.

The rate was about the same across tumor types but not across different chemotherapy regimens. The risk was increased among those receiving chemotherapy containing taxanes or platinum agents but not other chemo compounds.

The most common causes of death were hemorrhage, followed by low white-blood-cell count and gastrointestinal perforations.

Dr. Roman Perez-Soler, chairman of oncology and chief of medical oncology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, a lung cancer expert, pointed out that lung cancer is one of the few malignancies in which Avastin has prolonged survival and thus might still have a place in this armamentarium.

But an accompanying journal editorial raises other considerations, including the cost ($50,000 a year for the drug alone, plus the cost of monitoring and chemo) and a cumbersome delivery method (frequent injections for years).

The author of that editorial acknowledged that Avastin works well in some patients, but said it's impossible to predict in which patients and for how long benefits will last.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on Avastin.

SOURCES: Shenhong Wu, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, medicine, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, N.Y.; Roman Perez-Soler, M.D., chairman, oncology, and chief, medical oncology, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Feb. 2, 2011, Journal of the American Medical Association


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