The addition of Avastin® (bevacizumab) to Taxol® (paclitaxel) and carboplatin for the treatment of recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer appears to improve survival. These findings were presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, March 28–31, in Chicago, Illinois.

Each year in the United States, roughly 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 15,000 die of the disease. Treatment for ovarian cancer commonly involves surgery and/or chemotherapy. Women who experience cancer progression more than six months after completing treatment with a standard platinum-based chemotherapy regimen are considered to have platinum-sensitive cancer. Researchers continue to study new approaches for improving the outcomes of all women affected by ovarian cancer.

A team of international researchers began a Phase III clinical trial in 2007 to evaluate the effects on overall survival of the following two therapies in recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer:

  • The addition of Avastin to Taxol and carboplatin followed by maintenance Avastin compared with paclitaxel and carboplatin alone
  • Secondary surgery to remove cancer followed by chemotherapy with one of the regimens described above

The researchers also compared progression-free survival and safety between the combination of Avastin, Taxol, and carboplatin followed by maintenance of Avastin with paclitaxel and carboplatin alone.

Survival outcomes for the two chemotherapy regimens were available in late 2014. Of the 674 patients in the study, those who received paclitaxel and carboplatin plus Avastin had longer overall survival. The difference between overall survival between these patients and those who received Taxol and carboplatin alone, however, was not statistically significant (meaning it could have occurred by chance alone, not as a result of treatment). Patients receiving the Avastin combination, however, had a significantly longer progression-free survival.

The Avastin combination did appear to cause more side effects, but they were consistent with known side effects of the drug. These included allergy, infection, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal complications, and myelodysplasia (inability to produce enough normal blood cells). There were also seven deaths (2% of patients), which could have been related to treatment.

Outcomes of surgery in this study have not been finalized and will be released at a later date.

Reference: Coleman RL, Brady MF, Herzog TJ, et al. A phase III randomized controlled clinical trial of carboplatin and paclitaxel alone or in combination with bevacizumab followed by bevacizumab and secondary cytoreductive surgery in platinum-sensitive, recurrent ovarian, peritoneal primary and fallopian. Paper Presented at: 2015 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer; March 28–31, 2015; Chicago, IL.

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