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  AVASTIN (Bevacizumab)

 

Warning: Avastin has three primary risks associated with it.  Gastrointestinal perforation, surgery and wound healing complications, and hemorrhage each may have serious, life-threatening, or fatal incidents in patients taking Avastin. The incidence of gastrointestinal perforation, sometimes fatal, ranges from 0.3% to 2.4% in patients being treated with Avastin. Any patient who experiences gastrointestinal perforation should discontinue taking Avastin. The incidence of complications of surgery or wound-healing is increased in Avastin users. A patient who has difficulty healing from a wound or recovering from surgery while using Avastin should also stop using the medication. Patients using Avastin should stop using the medication at least 28 days before an elective surgery. Your Avastin treatment should not be resumed until at least 28 days after surgery; be sure that any surgery wounds are completely healed, as well.  Severe, even fatal hemorrhage can increase up to five times in patients on Avastin treatment. There are other risks associated with using Avastin, so talk to your doctor before beginning to use this medication. 

 

Indication: Avastin is a liquid medication that you will receive through an intravenous injection. You may know this medication by its generic name, bevacizumab; you can recognize it by its clear, colorless or slightly brown appearance. Avastin is used most frequently to treat colon, rectal, and kidney cancer, though it may be used to treat certain forms of lung cancer and brain cancer. 

Metastatic colorectal cancer – The following doses are usually prescribed: 5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg body weight, administered once every 2 weeks; 7.5 mg/kg or 15 mg/kg administered once every 3 weeks through intravenous infusion.

Metastatic breast cancer  – The following doses are usually prescribed to treat metastatic breast cancer: 10 mg / kg of body weight, administered once every 2 weeks; or the dosage of 15 mg/kg body weight once every 3 weeks, given by infusion into a vein.

Non-small cell Lung cancer (NSCLC) – in the treatment of NSCLC, Avastin is given in combination with a p latinum- based chemotherapy up to 6 cycles of treatment, followed by an Avastin monochemotherapy ( avastin only) until remission. The recommendation is 7.5 mg/kg or 15 mg/kg body weight given once every 3 weeks by intravenous infusion.

Advanced or metastatic kidney cancer – if you have an advanced kidney cancer, the dosage of Avastin that your doctor can recommend is 10 mg/kg of body weight, given once every 2 weeks by intravenous infusion.

In addition to the cancers mentioned above, the medication can also be used in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and other forms of cancers such as: 

  • non-metastatic unresectable liver cancer 
  • metastatic or unresectable locally advanced pancreatic cancer 
  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of primary brain tumor. 

Dosage: Avastin is an intravenous drug, so you will be receiving each dose from a health care professional; you won’t be able to give a dose of Avastin to yourself.  Patients are usually given more than one dose of Avastin over the course of several treatments.  Your first treatment session may last up to 90 minutes; later treatment sessions may be over in less time.  Depending on your response to the drug, your treatment schedule may be changed or adjusted. 

Overdose: taking excessive dose is strictly prohibited. Avastin  overdose causes severe migraine and other health problems. If you experience symptoms related to overdose during the treatment, call your doctor or pharmacist right away.

Interactions: At this time, there are no drugs, herbs, or supplements known to interact with Avastin.  However, it is possible for certain products to interfere with the effectiveness of this medication, so you should tell your doctor about any other herbs, drugs, or supplements you are using. 

 

Contraindications: Certain medical conditions contraindicate Avastin. These conditions include, but are not limited to: recent major surgery, fistula, stomach or intestinal ulcers, recent bloody vomit, or coughing up blood, kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, or blood clots. Because this is not a complete list of contraindications, you should talk to your doctor before beginning to take Avastin.

 

It is important to have the advice of your doctor before taking vitamins, nutritional supplements or over-the-counter drugs.

Side effects:  Avastin can bring good results in some cancer patients; however, it tends to cause adverse effects, which can be serious. The most common Avastin side effects include:

  • redness, itching, or scaling of the skin
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • bleeding nose
  • bleeding gums
  • taste Changes
  • dry mouth
  • decreased appetite
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • Sores on the skin or in the mouth 

Avastin can cause serious side effects which require immediate medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • fainting
  • seizures
  • severe depression
  • chest/neck pain
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of vision
  • vomitingBlood
  • black or bloody stools
  • dry, hacking cough
  • severe vaginal bleeding
  • slow or difficult speech
  • weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • dizziness, faintness or confusion
  • coughing, gagging, or choking
  • Severe headache (which can be a sign of overdose)
  • Pain or swelling of the face, eyes, stomach
  • Pain or swelling on the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs