Avastin® is a brand name for bevacizumab and is manufactured by the Genentech biotechnology corporation. It a powerful anti-cancer drug that works to limit the supply of blood to cancer tissues by destroying blood vessels in affected areas. By limiting the resources available to the tissue, this drug starves the cancer and inhibits the growth. This medication is used in combination with chemotherapy or other treatments, but has only been approved for use in a handful of cancer types. Avastin® may cause serious side effects, but its effectiveness in slowing cancer during treatment can make it a valuable resource in some cases.
This medication has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat tumors in the brain, breast and rectum. It can also work on tumors in the colon and lungs. This medication is usually reserved for cancers that have metastasized throughout the body. While doctors have the authority to use medications for conditions not listed on the label, Genentech warns that Avastin® may cause serious harm when used for unapproved treatments.
Oncologists may administer Avastin® at the time of chemotherapy or in the period before treatment commences to slow the growth of cancer. The drug is usually administered using an intravenous drip in an infusion center or medical office. The time between treatments varies by the type of cancer. Breast, rectum, or colon cancer patients may receive treatment every two weeks, while lung and kidney cancer sufferers can expect about three weeks between infusions. The number of treatments vary with the type of cancer and the progress of chemotherapy treatment.
The most adverse Avastin® side effects associated with this drug include perforations in the lower intestinal tract that may have to be corrected with surgery. Other side effects that warrant a call to the doctor include seizures, dizziness, chest pain, or swelling in one leg. Patients may experience blood in stools, vomit, or nasal discharge that may indicate that healthy blood vessels have been damaged. This drug can inhibit the growth of vital organs, so it is not recommended for infants, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.
Patients on Avastin® are advised to keep regular appointments with their doctors. Often, doctors will track blood pressure and examine blood samples for toxicity from the drug. The drug may interfere with or react with over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and prescription drugs. Patients should go over existing medications with their doctors before beginning infusions. Doctors should be mindful of treatment when prescribing or approving new medications.