Answers to FAQ's About Avastin®
Class: Biologic Therapy
Generic Name: bevacizumab (be-vuh-SIZZ-eh-mab)
Trade Name: Avastin®
For which conditions is Avastin used? Avastin is used for the treatment of selected patients with metastatic colorectal cancer; advanced, nonsquamous, non-small cell lung cancer; metastatic kidney cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma and other cancers.
What is the mechanism of action? Avastin belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. It is not a chemotherapy drug. Avastin produces its anti-cancer effects by targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and preventing the interaction of VEGF to its receptors. VEGF is a type of protein that is important in a process leading to cellular growth, replication and spread, and new blood vessel formation. Avastin binds to VEGF and inhibits its normal effects. It reduces the growth and spread of cancer cells by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels, making it harder for the tumor to grow.
How is Avastin typically given (administered)? Avastin is given as an intravenous (into a vein) infusion. The dose depends on several factors, including the condition being treated, the size of the patient, the particular regimen being used, and the overall health of the patient.
How are patients monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with Avastin. Patients may undergo physical examination, scans or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy. Patients will be monitored during the infusion for signs of an allergic reaction and changes in blood pressure. In addition, patients may be closely monitored for abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or coughing up of blood, as these could be symptoms of abdominal hemorrhage or gastrointestinal perforation. Patients may also undergo tests to check their blood pressure, protein levels in their urine, and their heart function. In addition, wound healing may be closely monitored, as this can be inhibited with Avastin.
What are the common side effects of treatment with Avastin?
- High blood pressure
- Nasal inflammation
- Excess protein in the urine
- Changes in taste
- Dry skin or skin inflammation
- Rectal bleeding
- Problems with tear production
- Back pain
What are some of the potentially serious side effects of Avastin?
- Gastrointestinal perforation (a hole in the stomach or intestine)
- Surgery and wound-healing complications
- Serious bleeding
- Fistula (abnormal passage from one part of the body to another)
- Stroke or heart problems
- Severe high blood pressure
- Nervous system or vision problems
- Kidney problems
- Infusion reactions
- Fertility problems in women (loss of ovarian function)
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
- Pay careful attention to the physician’s instructions and inform the physician of any side effects.
- Maintain adequate rest and nutrition.
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
- Patients should inform their physician about all medical conditions.
- Patients should inform their physician of any other medication or supplement they are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter).
- Patients should inform their physician if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a family in the near future.
- Patients should inform their physician about any recent or planned surgery.
When should patients notify their physician? Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects that bother you or don’t go away. Also tell your doctor if you notice symptoms of gastrointestinal perforation, such as pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or fever; signs of serious bleeding, such as vomiting or coughing up blood, rectal bleeding, or abnormal vaginal bleeding; wounds that don’t heal; chest pain; or signs of nervous system or vision problems, such as headache, seizure, sluggishness, confusion, or blindness.
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
Last updated on 09/16.
Important Limitations of Use
The information provided above on the drug you have selected is provided for your information only and is not a substitute for consultation with an appropriate medical doctor. We are providing this information solely as a courtesy and, as such, it is in no way a recommendation as to the safety, efficacy or appropriateness of any particular drug, regimen, dosing schedule for any particular cancer, condition or patient nor is it in any way to be considered medical advice. Patients should discuss the appropriateness of a particular drug or chemotherapy regimen with their physician.
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