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From the January 1, 2003 issue of the Journal of Clinical OncologyScientists have known for several years that it may be possible to fight cancer by preventing tumors from developing the blood vessels they need to grow and spread. Several drugs that limit the growth of blood vessels have been created, but until recently, these drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors were only in the earliest stages of development. Now, scientists have found evidence that an angiogenesis inhibitor called bevacizumab, when combined with standard chemotherapy, can help patients with advanced colorectal cancer. In a study led by Dr. Fairooz Kabbinavar, of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California Los Angeles, researchers combined bevacizumab with the chemotherapy drugs that are usually given to patients with advanced colorectal cancer.The researchers found that patients who received the combination of bevacizumab and chemotherapy were more likely to have their cancer respond to treatment than those who received chemotherapy alone. Patients receiving bevacizumab plus chemotherapy were also less likely to have their tumors begin growing again after the start of treatment.However, Dr. Kabbinavar stressed that this is a relatively small, early-phase study, and that more research with bevacizumab needs to be done to determine exactly how much of a benefit the new drug can provide. What Does This Mean For Patients?According to Dr. Kabbinavar, more research needs to be done to confirm the benefits of bevacizumab and chemotherapy for patients with advanced colorectal cancer. However, he pointed out that a large phase III clinical trial of bevacizumab and chemotherapy was recently completed and should provide a more definite answer soon. To learn more about clinical trials of this promising new treatment, patients should speak with their doctor.