Thursday, January 26, 2012

That Avastin Debate

This is now either 'the debate that will not die' or plot number 9,487, 321 to confuse the patients. Two new studies have shown that treatment of Avastin with chemotherapy reduces breast cancer tumors to the point that they are non-existent at surgery. How wonderful, how exciting, how confusing.

Avastin is that drug that has been determined by the FDA not to be helpful in treating late stage breast cancer. But two new German studies have shown positive results for early stage breast cancer treatment. However, there are three big ifs here before anyone starts jumping up and down with excitement:

1. Avastin has nasty side effects.
2. The long term outcome of the women in the study is not yet seen so there is no guarantee the cancer won't return.
3. Different types of chemotherapy were used in the two studies so we may not be comparing apples and oranges here.

I am not sure if this is news or not. Yes it does show new research (and there is always new research going on) but there are too many ifs here. I think eventually it will be news when we know about long term results and the issue is resolved of the different chemo protocols used.

As usual I believe this is a case of the initial results being over hyped without knowing if it will really work in the long run. The drug companies announce the latest results of research and some how the media takes it and it ends up being news before its time.

1 comment:

WhiteStone said...

As an ovarian, my second regimen consisted of carbo/taxol/avastin followed by avastin maintenance. While I recurred after 10 months of the A maintenance, I felt that it lengthened my remission (if you can call it that) time over the previous time by about 4 months. That may not be significant to many, but it sure was to me. I'm 3 yrs out from dx and even tho I am doing yet another chemo regimen, I am feeling well and busy in life.
My experience with avastin was a rare itchy rash. My blood pressure is typically low anyway, so the elevation in BP was not a significant problem for me.