Bevacizumab offers first hope for advanced cervical cancer

June 2, 2013 by Mira Oberman

A new cervical cancer drug offers the first good hope of extending life for women with advanced stages of the disease, according to a study published Sunday.

Existing chemotherapy regimes are largely ineffective against advanced stages of cervical cancer, which kills 250,000 women worldwide every year.

That's why early screening is so critical—regular have managed to reduce deaths in wealthy countries by 80 percent.

"Women with advanced cervical cancer don't have many options," said lead study author Krishnansu Sujata Tewari, a professor of at the University of California Irvine.

"We finally have a drug that helps women live longer."

The study found that women who were given the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) along with their chemotherapy prolonged survival to an average of 17 months, compared with 13.3 months for those who only received chemotherapy.

The phase III clinical trial of 452 women found that 48 percent of patients who received the drug saw their tumors shrink, compared with 36 percent of those who did not.

The results also indicated that the did not come at the cost of diminished quality of life.

The study was presented at the 's annual meeting in Chicago.

It offers "the first ever treatment to extend the lives of women with aggressive cervical cancer," said ASCO spokeswoman and expert Carol Aghajanian.

Genentech's drug bevacizumab is currently approved by US regulators for use in several advanced cancers, but has not yet been approved for gynecological cancer. It works to block in the tumor.

Tewari said he hopes the results are strong enough to gain approval for the drug to be used with cervical .

"I'm hoping this is a definitive study and it will change practices," he told reporters at a press conference announcing the results.

"This is also possibly a first step toward turning cervical cancer into a chronic disease, helping women live longer and allowing time for additional treatments that could further slow the cancer's progression and improve survival."

Thanks to early detection and treatment, cervical cancer only kills 4,000 women a year in the United States.

But for those who do not respond to treatment, the situation is grim.

"Women die in the prime years of their lives and children lose their mothers," Tewari said.

Bevacizumab is likely too costly to help the bulk of advanced cervical cancer patients who live in developing countries, Tewari acknowledged.

Help could nonetheless eventually reach them now that scientists know that blocking blood vessel formation can impact advanced cervical cancer.

"It really opens up doors to study other classes of drugs," he told reporters.

A second study released Sunday offered hope to women in developing countries who rarely have access to early screening.

Researchers in India were able to reduce rates by 31 percent by using a simple, cheap vinegar test that can be administered by community health workers and delivers instant results.

Explore further: Drug can delay ovarian cancer relapses: study

Related Stories

Drug can delay ovarian cancer relapses: study

June 1, 2013
A drug already approved for treating kidney cancer was successful at delaying the return of advanced ovarian cancer by an average of nearly six months, a clinical study released Saturday found.

Bevacizumab significantly improves survival for patients with recurrent and metastatic cervical cancer

February 8, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with advanced, recurrent, or persistent cervical cancer that was not curable with standard treatment who received the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) lived 3.7 months longer than patients who did not ...

Stigma hampering cervical cancer battle in India

May 10, 2013
Social stigma is harming attempts to combat cervical cancer in India where more women die annually of the disease than anywhere else in the world, a new report said Friday.

Cervical cancer patients more likely to survive if treated at high-volume medical facilities

March 12, 2013
Patients with locally advanced cervical cancer have better treatment outcomes and are more likely to survive the disease if they receive care at a high-volume medical center than patients treated at low-volume facilities, ...

Self-collection of samples for HPV testing shows promise in detection of cervical cancer in Kenya

May 1, 2013
In Kenya, women face a cervical cancer mortality rate that is approximately 10 times as high as in the United States. A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that training women ...

Cervical cancer: DNA-based test more accurate than repeat smear

March 27, 2013
In women who have a potentially or mildly abnormal cervical smear, using a DNA-based test can identify those at higher risk of having precursors of cervical cancer, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The authors ...

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.