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Cancer Drug Avastin Linked to High Blood Pressure and Gastrointestinal Bleeding Risk

Sep 19, 2013

A recently published review of cancer treatment clinical trials reported that the cancer treatment Avastin (bevacizumab) was associated with increased hypertension (high blood pressure) and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Avastin is used to treat a number of different types of cancer, including metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), glioblastoma, metastatic kidney cancer, and advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer, Drug Safety Monitor reports. In 2011 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked approval of Avastin for the treatment of breast cancer. Although Avastin was effective in slowing tumor progression, there were no changes in patient mortality rate or quality of life. Avastin was also associated with serious adverse events in breast cancer patients.

The researchers conducted a review of existing trials from the National Library of Medicine PubMed, MEDLINE, Ovid, Cochrane Library, and Chinese Biomedicine databases to define adverse events in mCRC patients treated with Avastin. The analysis included a total of 6,937 patients from 15 different clinical trials, according to Drug Safety Monitor. In the article’s abstract, the authors write that they discovered that bevacizumab was associated with a threefold higher risk of hypertension (pooled RR 3.06 [95 % CI 2.45–3.83]), and a twofold higher risk of gastrointestinal hemorrhage/perforation. The study was published online in August in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation.

The researchers concluded that while Avastin is effective in treatment regimens for advanced colorectal cancer, there is an increased risk of serious adverse events and medical professionals should be cautious when using Avastin in the treatment of mCRC.

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