Michael A. Bookman, MD, appeared on the Dec. 28 edition of NBC Nightly News to discuss the potential use of Avastin to help combat ovarian cancer.
In a piece by NBC chief science correspondent Robert Bazell, Dr. Bookman discussed the findings of a recent phase 3 clinical trial conducted by the Gynecologic Oncology Group. The study showed that a targeted therapy called bevacizumab (Avastin) effectively delayed the progression of advanced ovarian cancer.
“I think it’s a very significant finding," Dr. Bookman said. "It’s something we’ve been expecting, based on our understanding of the biology of the ovary, its normal function and the changes that occur with cancer.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 22,000 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, and more than 15,000 died of the disease.
Avastin is already FDA-approved for use against some types of colon, lung, kidney and brain cancers, but has yet to receive FDA approval for use against ovarian cancer. The drug acts by binding with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein produced by certain cancers that helps initiate the growth of new blood vessels that feed the tumor, thereby blocking the blood supply.
"Our understanding of the potential role for bevacizumab in patients with ovarian cancer continues to evolve, based on these large clinical trials and a number of smaller studies in the setting of recurrent disease," Bookman added. "Of interest, it seems that patients with ascites (fluid in the abdomen) or recurrent disease are more likely to experience benefit, compared to patients who receive bevacizumab at the time of their initial diagnosis, when the amount of disease remaining after surgery and chemotherapy is generally quite small. From that perspective, it would also be desirable to identify a test that could predict who might actually benefit from treatment, to help minimize risks."
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