Avastin® (bevacizumab)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets proteins in cancer cells that help the cancer grow, divide, and spread. Targeted therapy drugs identify these specific proteins and attack the cancer cells while trying to minimize damage to healthy cells.1

Avastin® (bevacizumab) is a targeted therapy drug used to treat some types of ovarian cancer. There are also several bevacizumab biosimilar drugs. A biosimilar drug is similar is structure to an approved biologic drug.2

Following surgery for advanced epithelial ovarian cancer (stage III or IV), Avastin is used in combination with certain chemotherapy drugs. It is then followed by treatment with Avastin alone.2

Avastin is also used with specific chemotherapy drugs to treat certain forms of platinum-resistant epithelial ovarian cancer and recurrent platinum-sensitive epithelial ovarian cancer.2

What are the ingredients in Avastin?

The active ingredient in Avastin is bevacizumab.3

How does Avastin work?

Avastin blocks a certain protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). While healthy cells make some VEGF, some cancer cells make too much VEGF. Blocking VEGF may help to prevent new blood vessel growth, including blood vessels that provide nutrients tumors need to grow.4

By blocking VEGF, Avastin helps “starve” cancerous tumors, preventing them from growing and spreading.4

What are the possible side effects of Avastin?

The most common side effects of Avastin include:3

  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of protein in the urine
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Changes in how things taste
  • Dry skin
  • Inflammation of the skin and nose
  • Watery eyes

Other side effects may include:3

  • Fainting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood clots
  • Low white blood cell counts
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Possible serious side effects can include:3

  • GI perforation (a hole in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract)
  • Problems with wound healing
  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Infusion-related reactions
  • Fistulas (an abnormal connection between 2 hollow spaces in the body, such as blood vessels or the intestines)
  • Stroke or heart problems
  • Nervous system and vision problems

These are not all the possible side effects of Avastin. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with Avastin.

Things to know about Avastin

Avastin is not right for everyone. Tell your doctor if you are having surgery soon. Taking this drug before or after surgery may interfere with healing and increase bleeding.3

Avastin can cause harm to an unborn baby and should not be given to people who are pregnant. If you can become pregnant, you should use birth control (contraception) during treatment and for a period of time after the last dose of Avastin. Talk to your doctor about the right birth control options and how long you need to use them.3

You should also not breastfeed during treatment with Avastin and for a period of time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about the right breastfeeding options.3

Before beginning treatment with Avastin, talk to your doctor about any other health issues you have. Also tell your doctor about any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Avastin (bevacizumab).

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