Bevacizumab Boosts Survival, Bleed Risk in Lung Cancer

Risk of treatment-related death is higher with the drug

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Adding bevacizumab to chemotherapy increases survival in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer but carries a higher risk of treatment-related deaths, according to a study in the Dec. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Alan Sandler, M.D., of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues randomly assigned 878 patients with recurrent or advanced non-small-cell lung cancer to chemotherapy with paclitaxel plus carboplatin alone or in combination with bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor. Patients received chemotherapy every three weeks for six cycles and received bevacizumab every three weeks.

The researchers found a significant increase in median overall survival and median progression-free survival in patients receiving bevacizumab (12.3 months versus 10.3 months, hazard ratio 0.79; and 6.2 versus 4.5 months, hazard ratio 0.66; respectively). However, the risk of bleeding was significantly higher in patients receiving bevacizumab (4.4 versus 0.7 percent), with 15 treatment-related deaths compared with only two for chemotherapy alone.

"The addition of bevacizumab to paclitaxel plus carboplatin in the treatment of selected patients with non-small-cell lung cancer has a significant survival benefit with the risk of increased treatment-related deaths," Sandler and colleagues conclude.

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