Avastin (bevacizumab) is a type of chemotherapy treatment that slows tumor growth by blocking the protein that is responsible for forming new blood vessels, which is what tumors need to thrive. By blocking these blood vessels, tumor growth is slowed. For those suffering from mesothelioma, hindering tumor growth can greatly improve the quality of life of a patient as symptoms of this aggressive disease are lessened.
A recent study published in the Clinical Cancer Research noted that after a Phase III clinical trial, Avastin, when used in conjunction with cisplatin and pemetrexed for those with malignant pleural mesothelioma, not only improved survival rates on average by three months, but also helped manage pain, specifically pain association with peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy and Mesothelioma
Peripheral neuropathy is a common medical condition (affecting about 3 million people each year in the United States) where damaged nerves cause numbness, weakness, and general pain typically in the hands and the feet
Symptoms of neuropathy vary depending on which nerves are affected, but chemotherapy often affects the peripheral nerves, which are nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Some symptoms are as follows:
- Muscle weakness
- Sensitivity to touch
- Gradual onset of numbness
- Sharp or throbbing pain
A 2014 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found that 90 percent of patients who receive chemotherapy experience peripheral neuropathy.
Between 2008 and 2014, 448 patients were examined in the IFCT-GFPC-0701 MAPS Phase III clinical trial regarding the addition of bevacizumab to cisplatin plus pemetrexed, which is the first line chemo treatment for those suffering from mesothelioma. Health related quality of life was measured every nine weeks until disease progression. Results showed that with the addition of Avastin, deterioration- free survival time increased to more than a year.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network already recommends including Avastin as part of the treatment plan but the FDA has not approved it for mesothelioma because of some of the side effects it can have with other cancers.
With the positive results from the Phase III clinical trial this treatment could be added to chemotherapy regimen for those with pleural mesothelioma who qualify.
Guillaume, Eberst, et. al. “Health-related Quality of Life Impact from Adding Bevacizumab to Cisplatin-Pemetrexed in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in the MAPS IFCT-GFPC-0701 Phase III Trial,” Clinical Cancer Research (June 2019). [Link]