Bevacizumab: The First Biologic Shown to Extend Survival in Late-Stage Cervical Cancer

Bevacizumab is the first biologic, targeted treatment for cervical cancer proven to significantly improve survival, according to Phase III research released ahead of the plenary session of the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Bevacizumab is the first biologic, targeted treatment for cervical cancer proven to significantly improve survival, according to Phase III research released ahead of the plenary session of the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Although not yet approved by the FDA for a gynecologic-related indication, bevacizumab (Avastin) was found in clinical trials to prolong overall survival in women with metastatic or relapsed cervical cancer.

Data supported by the National Cancer Institute and released at the ASCO meeting in Chicago revealed that when compared with chemotherapy alone, chemotherapy plus bevacizumab prolonged survival by nearly 4 months in women with gynecologic cancers.

Women don’t have many options to treat advanced cervical cancer, explained lead study author, Krishnansu Sujata, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California Irvine. Currently, chemoradiotherapy is the standard of treatment for metastatic or relapsed cervical cancer; according to prior studies, the treatment of metastatic disease is “palliative at best.”

Bevacizumab is a humanized recombinant antibody that prevents vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor binding, effectively inhibiting blood vessel formation and tumor growth.

According to an ASCO press briefing, this is the first time a targeted therapy blocking angiogenesis has been shown to prolong survival for women with aggressive cervical cancer. “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,” Dr. Sujata said prior to ASCO’s plenary session.

Two different chemotherapy regimens (cisplatin plus paclitaxel and topotecan plus paclitaxel) were tested in this 4-armed clinical trial. There were 452 women included in the study, and each was assigned a treatment of eitherchemotherapy alone or chemotherapy plus bevacizumab.

Although there were no significant survival differences between the 2 chemotherapy regimens, patients receiving bevacizumab plus chemotherapy were found to have higher survival rates (17 months vs 13.3 months) and higher tumor shrinkage rates than those receiving chemotherapy alone.

“This study clearly shows show our nation’s investment in clinical cancer research pays off, offering the first ever treatment to extend the lives of women with aggressive cervical cancer,” ASCO spokesperson and gynecologic cancer expert Carol Aghajanian, MD, noted during the press briefing preceding the presentation of the study.

For more information on the trial, watch this OncLive video: