I often encounter patients and their caregivers who are unaware that receiving Avastin too early in their treatment plan can actually disqualify them from participating in many clinical trials. This causes a lot of frustration for patients who want to participate in such trials but only learn about this issue after it’s too late. Improved awareness and communication between patients and their doctors about the trade-offs with using Avastin prior to considering participation in clinical trials, can help avoid this situation.
Avastin (bevacizumab) is an approved treatment for gliomas at recurrence, and it may help some patients with brain cancer to manage symptoms related to brain swelling. However, a common and important question is when is the best time to use it?
Dr. Piccioni and co-authors from leading universities published results from a 468 patient retrospective study (Piccioni, Neurooncology 2014) that showed deferred use of Avastin didn’t negatively impact survival and was actually preferable for most patients with recurrent glioblastoma. While not a definitive study, these results indicate that patients with recurrent glioblastoma can consider participation in clinical trials first and defer use of Avastin until later, without feeling that they are losing out on its potential benefit.
If you are considering use of Avastin for recurrent brain cancer I recommend you first explore the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial and talk to your doctor about the trade-offs with using Avastin. You can also talk to one of the brain cancer foundations, or brain cancer support professionals, who could provide you with information of which trials are open, where they are located and which ones might fit your particular clinical situation.
- Dr. Piccioni’s article in Neurooncology: http://neuro-oncology.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/12/neuonc.nou028.full.pdf+html
- Information about Avastin for brain cancer patients: http://www.avastin.com/patient
- “Avastin is approved to treat glioblastoma (GBM) when taken alone in adult patients whose cancer has progressed after prior treatment (recurrent or rGBM). The effectiveness of Avastin in rGBM is based on tumor response. Currently, no data have shown whether or not Avastin improves disease-related symptoms or survival in people with rGBM.”