In a nutshell
This study compared two treatment strategies for advanced non-small cell lung cancer: platinum analog chemotherapy plus the drug bevacizumab (avastin) versus platinum analog chemotherapy alone.
Treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer typically involves treatment with chemotherapy. Standard chemotherapy regimens usually contain drugs such as cisplatin or carboplatin, which belong to the class of drugs called platinum analogs. These chemotherapeutic drugs inhibit the formation of new cells, thus delaying tumor growth and spread.
Bevacizumab is a biological (or targeted) drug that works by blocking the production of new blood vessels needed for tumor growth. It is hypothesized that adding bevacizumab to standard chemotherapy may improve overall survival.
Methods & findings
The present study analyzed data from 2194 patients that participated in other trials for advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Of these, 1313 patients received bevacizumab plus platinum analog chemotherapy, while 881 patients received platinum analog chemotherapy alone. Results showed that patients who received bevacizumab had improved survival rates 1 year after starting therapy. 1-year survival rates were 51% with chemotherapy treatment alone, compared to 55% when bevacizumab was added. The greatest benefit was obtained in patients with a specific type of lung cancer; adenocarcinoma. Survival was also better in patients who experienced only mild weight loss (less than 5%).
However, adding bevacizumab to chemotherapy also increased the risk of side effects such as high blood pressure, low white blood cell count, fever and kidney dysfunction.
The bottom line
Bevacizumab significantly improved survival when added to platinum analog chemotherapy for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer patients. However, there was also a higher risk of side effects.
The fine print
This analysis was performed using retrospective data, composed from other trials using slightly different study protocols. A large, head-to-head analysis between two groups of patients followed-up for a long period of time would yield more accurate results.
Consult with your physician regarding the benefits and risks of bevacizumab therapy.
Published By :
Annals of oncology
Jan 01, 2013