Is Avastin a New Treatment Option for Advanced Ovarian Cancer?

Illustration of an ovarian cancer tumor

By studying the effects of bevacizumab (brand name AvastinTM), a drug currently FDA-approved for use in the treatment of several other cancers, a research team led by the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG)  has laid the groundwork for a possible new treatment option for women with advanced ovarian cancer—a treatment option that may increase the time women live without their disease worsening. The Statistical and Data Center for these studies is located at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

The results of a clinical trial were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. But how exactly were the results achieved? And what do the results tell us?

The Study Set Up

The study was a phase III clinical trial. A phase III trial, in general, involves comparing the effectiveness of a new drug or intervention (or new use of a proven agent) against other current, standard treatments.

The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of bevacizumab.  This agent is believed to block the growth of nutrient-supplying blood vessels that form in cancerous tumors. The 1,873 women enrolled in the study had newly diagnosed advanced-stage ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer.

Each woman was treated with a standard chemotherapy regimen of carboplatin and paclitaxel. In addition to this chemotherapy, the women were broken into three sub-groups, each group receiving one of the following:

  • 5 cycles of bevacizumab followed by 16 cycles of a placebo
  • 21 cycles of bevacizumab
  • 21 cycles of a placebo 

The Results

The women who received 21 cycles of bevacizumab lived progression-free significantly longer than those who received a placebo. We are all deeply indebted to the women who participated in this study. 

New Questions

This study also left the researchers with new questions to answer. While the results indicated that bevacizumab is an active treatment, it is not currently clear why bevacizumab did not also significantly prolong the duration of overall survival. Ongoing research will seek to determine whether there are subgroups of women with gynecologic cancers who are more likely to benefit from this type of therapy.

You can learn more about studies of bevacizumab in the treatment of Ovarian Cancer from the National Cancer Institute. Questions about ovarian cancer? Call us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email