According to a recent study, adding the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to chemotherapy for advanced or recurrent (cancer that has come back) cervical cancer lengthens patients’ lives. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, but it is often ineffective for treating advanced cervical cancer. Bevacizumab is a type of targeted therapy, which is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.
In this study, 452 women with recurrent or metastatic (cancer that has spread) cervical cancer received either chemotherapy or chemotherapy plus bevacizumab. Two different combinations of drugs were used for chemotherapy, but researchers found no differences in the effectiveness of these two combinations. Overall, patients who received bevacizumab plus chemotherapy lived almost four months longer than those who received only chemotherapy. In addition, patients who received bevacizumab were more likely to have their tumors shrink for a longer period of time, and the addition of bevacizumab did not lower their quality of life.
What this means for patients
“Women with advanced cervical cancer don’t have many treatment options. We finally have a drug that helps women live longer,” said lead study author Krishnansu Sujata Tewari, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California Irvine in Orange. “This is also possibly a first step toward turning cervical cancer into a chronic disease, helping women live longer and allowing time for the development of additional treatments that could further slow the cancer’s progression and improve survival.” Bevacizumab is currently approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration for several advanced cancers. However, it has not been approved for any gynecologic cancer, so it may not be available for all patients yet; talk with your doctor for more information.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What stage of cervical cancer do I have? What does this mean?
- What is my prognosis (chance of recovery)?
- What are my treatment options?
- What clinical trials are open to me?
- What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
- What are the risks and benefits of this treatment plan?
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