Combining cancer therapies may create risk

Feb. 2, 2011 at 8:57 PM
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STONY BROOK, N.Y., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Combining a commonly-prescribed cancer drug with chemotherapy may increase the risk of death, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York say studies show the cancer drug bevacizumab, sold under the trade name Avastin, coupled with chemotherapy can increase the risk of treatment-related death, reported Wednesday.

Stony Brook's Vishal Ranpura conducted a review of studies in which bevacizumab in combination with chemotherapy or biological therapy was compared with chemotherapy or biological therapy alone.

Compared with chemotherapy alone, the addition of bevacizumab was associated with a 1.5-times increased risk of fatal adverse events, he found.

Bevacizumab was associated with a 3.5-times increased risk of FAEs in patients receiving biological therapies involving taxanes or platinum agents.

Bevacizumab is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cancers that are metastatic and have spread to other parts of the body.

"Even though a number of FAEs (fatal adverse events) have been reported in patients treated with bevacizumab, its role in the development of these fatal events has not been definitively established," the American Medical Association said in an article in its journal. "Data across bevacizumab trials reveal conflicting results regarding its associations with FAEs."

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