Roche's Avastin significantly extends overall survival in women with advanced cervical cancer: study

Roche presented data from a Phase III trial on Sunday at ASCO's annual meeting showing that the addition of Avastin (bevacizumab) to standard chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival (OS) in women with advanced cervical cancer, compared to chemotherapy alone. "We finally have a drug that helps women live longer," said study lead Krishnansu Sujata Tewari, adding that "this is also possibly a first step toward turning cervical cancer into a chronic disease...allowing time for additional treatments that could further slow the cancer's progression and improve survival."

Study GOG240 included 452 women with advanced (stage IVb) cervical cancer, or cervical cancer that persisted or recurred after standard treatment. The women were randomised to receive Paclitaxel and cisplatin; Paclitaxel, cisplatin and Avastin; Paclitaxel and topotecan; or Paclitaxel, topotecan and Avastin. The study met its primary endpoint of improving OS with a 29-percent reduction in the risk of death for women who received Avastin plus chemotherapy compared to those who received chemotherapy alone. Specifically, median OS was 17 months with Avastin plus chemotherapy, versus 13.3 for chemotherapy alone.

In other results, median progression-free survival was 8.2 months in the Avastin plus chemotherapy group, versus 5.9 months in the chemotherapy alone group, representing a 33-percent improvement. In addition, the response rate for Avastin plus chemotherapy was 48 percent compared to 36 percent in chemotherapy alone. The company added that no new side effects related to Avastin were observed and overall safety was consistent with that seen in previous studies of the drug across different tumour types. "Not only did we not find any new side effects, but the overall side effects that we did see were all under 10 percent, which is considered to be an acceptable trade-off when getting a survival gain," noted Tewari.

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