New Studies Reignite Debate Over the Use of Avastin for Breast Cancer

Two recent studies suggest that Avastin might be effective in early stage breast cancer. In both studies, one in the U.S. involving of 1206 women and one in Germany involving 1948 women, a combination of Avastin and chemotherapy in early phases increased the likelihood of a tumor shrinking to the point that it was no longer detectable in pre-operative testing. Although the studies are encouraging, it remains to be seen whether Avastin actually improves survival rate. The health of the women in both clinical trials will continue to be followed. Serious side of effects of Avastin include heart problems, bleeding, and infection. The uncertainty about whether the drug prolongs life as well as concern over the side effects have resulted in insurance companies not covering the cost of the medication, which might be as high as $10,000 per month.

Three studies are in progress to further explore the benefits of Avastin in early stage breast cancer. One of the studies should have results available for review by the end of the year. Articles discussing the most recent clinical trials are available at Medpage Today and The Boston Globe.