A few months ago a relative was diagnosed with breast cancer. During chemotherapy treatments, I learned that one portion of her cancer fighting cocktail was the name brand drug, Avastin. I was curious to learn the purpose of this medication, and how it is expected to affect cancer cells. (Please note, I am not a medical professional, simply a curious journalist that wants to learn more about cancer fighting drugs. Please ask your doctor specific information regarding your own personal uses for Avastin.)
What is Avastin?
Avastin is a liquid medication administered by an IV drip or injection for the treatment of tumors and several types of cancer, according to Drugs.com. Avastin is a name brand formula of bevacizumab manufactured by Cerner Multum, Inc.
How does Avastin work for cancer patients?
Halting the growth of cancer cells, by blocking the formation of new blood vessels, is the key purpose of Avastin. Cancer cells need a large supply of blood to deliver nutrients to the cancerous cells, according to BreastCancer.org. Avastin helps prevent the cancer cells from being nourished and duplicating. Used in combination with other cancer fighting drugs, Avastin is prescribed to patients fighting breast, lung, rectum, kidney and colon cancer.
Given typically once every two weeks over a duration of 30 to 90 minutes, Avastin may cause side effects while being administered. Complaints of feeling dizzy, nauseated, itchy or having chest pain have been reported. Regular testing of the patient’s urine, blood pressure and stools are common while being treated with Avastin.
Considerations When Taking Avastin to Treat Cancer
Patients receiving Avastin are advised to avoid surgery while taking this medication. It can cause excess bleeding and infection, making it difficult for incisions and wounds to heal. Delay treatments of Avastin for four weeks, or until the surgery site has healed, before continuing to medicate.
Serious long term side effects have been associated with Avastin according to BreastCancer.org. Reported effects include blood clots in the veins, kidney malfunctioning, increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Serious neurological brain disorders have also been reported by Avastin manufacturer, Cerner Multum, Inc.
Drugs.com: Drug Information Online about Avastin (Bevacizumab)
BreastCancer.org: About Avastin
BreastCancer.org: How Avastin Works