Nothing is ever simple. You will remember that, several months ago, there was an enormous crisis/uproar around the use of Avastin in Stage IV breast cancer. The outcome was that the FDA withdrew approval of the drug for this purpose, and the assumption is that most insurance companies will stop paying for it. Of course, there were women and doctos who insisted that it had been helpful for them, and there most certanly was some individual real pain. The FDA's decision was based on a number of reports and studies that showed that Avastin not only did not extend survival, but had some serious side effects that led to some early deaths.
Now, here is a small study that suggests that adding Avastin to chemotherapy may be helpful for women with metastatic/Stage IV HER2 negative breast cancer. I guess this is in line with the growing importance of individualized treatment and learning what drugs are helpful for very specific situations. Here is the beginning of an article from Reuters and a link to read more:
Avastin Improves Chemo for Refractory HER2-Negative Breast Cancer
By David Douglas
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Nov 02 - In cases of refractory HER2-negative breast cancer, adding bevacizumab (Avastin) to common chemotherapies improves progression-free survival, randomized trial data show.
The data are from the RIBBON-2 trial, conducted in women who needed second-line chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. Adding bevacizumab to their chemo did not improve their overall survival, as was originally reported several years ago.
But for women with human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2-negative metastatic disease, bevacizumab delayed disease progression and so might still "expand the treatment options," said lead investigator Dr. Adam M. Brufsky of the University of Pittsburgh in an email to Reuters Health.
In an October 11th online paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Brufsky and colleagues reported on 684 women who had previously received at least one cytotoxic treatment for local or distant spread of their HER2-negative tumors.
In RIBBON-2 they each received either a capecitabine-, taxane-, gemcitabine-, or vinorelbine-based chemotherapy regimen, and in addition the researchers randomly assigned them 2:1 to receive bevacizumab or placebo.
Median progression-free survival was 7.2 months in the bevacizumab group and 5.1 months in placebo patients, a significant difference. The objective response rate was also better with bevacizumab, although not significantly so (39.5% vs 29.6%).
One year survival rates were similar in the two arms of the study (69.5% vs 66.2%).