What is bevacizumab?

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Bevacizumab is an anti-cancer drug that works to combat the growth of blood vessels that is a common occurrence when a person has cancer.  Pharmacologically, bevacizumab functions like an antibody that resists the process of angiogenesis or the growth of blood vessels.  It is very typical for cancer cells to develop blood vessels in order to spread to other areas. With bevacizumab, this particular part of cancer development will be stopped.  Genentech/Roche is the drug company that manufactures bevacizumab and the brand name in use is called Avastin.

Avastin or bevacizumab has received its FDA approval back in 2004 and is prescribed for a variety of conditions especially those cancers that have become metastatic or those that have spread to the other tissues and organs of the body.  Cancers of the colon and some types of lung cancer may be treated with bevacizumab along with other traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy.  Some doctors also prescribe bevacizumab for the treatment of other cancers like ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer. Although there are some issues and controversies surrounding regarding this drug’s effect on breast cancer and other types of cancer, the drug can still be legally prescribed for these specific cases. Studies are also done continuously to gain better understanding on the drug’s actual benefits to cancer patients.  Aside from cancer though, bevacizumab is also used to treat some patients with eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.  In both these cases, there is also abnormal blood vessel growth and so the action of bevacizumab is also considered effective.

Administration of bevacizumab is through intravenous infusion and the dosage will depend on the type of cancer to be treated and the stage of abnormal growth or the various tissues affected.  Some cancer types require the administration of bevacizumab every 2 weeks while others are treated with this drug along with chemotherapy every three weeks.

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