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Avastin data gives hope to colorectal cancer patients


New data from several studies presented at ECCO 15 and ESMO 34 confirm unique benefits of Avastin (bevacizumab) and Xeloda (capecitabine) in treatment of colon cancer:

  • Combination of Avastin with standardchemotherapy resulted in shrinkage or disappearance of liver metastasesin 78% of patients with advanced colon cancer. A third of patients withpreviously inoperable liver metastasis became eligible for apotentially life saving surgery (BOXER Study).
  • Elderly patients derive similar benefits from Avastin basedtreatment as younger patients. Age should not preclude them fromtreatment (First BEAT study).
  • Additional data show Xeloda combined with oxaliplatin offerssuperior three, four and five year disease-free survival in early coloncancer (NO16968 XELOXA).

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death fromcancer across all tumour types in Europe and is the third most commonlyreported cancer in the world.

Avastin in combination with chemotherapy led to shrinkage ordisappearance (overall response rate) of liver metastases (disease thathas spread to the liver) in 78% of patients with advanced colorectalcancer. As a result, one third (33%) of patients who were initiallyunable to undergo surgery were eligible to undergo a potentially lifesaving surgery. Complete surgical removal of the metastases wasachieved in 56% of all Avastin-treated patients.

The multicentre phase II BOXER study investigated the efficacy andsafety of Avastin in combination with oral Xeloda and intravenousoxaliplatin (XELOX) in patients considered unsuitable for upfrontresection (surgical removal) of their liver metastases.

“The data from BOXER shows that Avastin in combination with standardchemotherapy has the ability to shrink metastatic lesions which mightallow surgical removal and therefore offer a potential for cure forpatients with advanced disease,” explained Professor David Cunningham,Head of the Gastrointestinal Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital, UK.

Data from the large, observational First BEAT study showed thatAvastin-based treatment delivers the same benefits to all patientsincluding those aged above 65 years who represent the majority ofpeople with advanced colorectal cancer. This is an important finding asolder patients are often under-represented in clinical trials. Thestudy results showed that the time patients lived without their diseaseadvancing (PFS) was similar across age groups – 10.8 months for thosebelow 65 years, 11.2 months for those between 65 and 74 years and 10months for those 75 years and older.

Patients taking Xeloda with oxaliplatin immediately after surgerylive disease free for longer compared to those treated with commonlyused chemotherapy regimen:

New results for Xeloda in early colon cancer were also presented atECCO ESMO. The pivotal NO16968 (XELOXA) study, the largest-ever studyof patients with stage III colon cancer, showed that the three yeardisease-free survival (DFS) for patients receiving XELOX was 70.9%,superior to the 5-FU/LV arm (66.5%) (HR=0.80 (95% CI: 0.69-0.93),p=0.0045). The DFS result obtained with XELOX is similar to that shownin trials evaluating the use of FOLFOX in patients with stage III coloncancer.

“We know that XELOX helps keep patients free from recurrence oftheir cancer longer,’’ said Dr Dan Haller, Professor of Medicine,University of Pennsylvania. “These results now confirm that patientshave an additional option for the treatment of stage III colon cancer.In these potentially curable patients, XELOX offers the additionalbenefit of an oral medication, Xeloda.”

“Colorectal cancer sadly claims more than 600,000 lives each year,despite the treatment advances made in the last decade” said William M.Burns, CEO of Roche’s Pharmaceuticals. “Today’s announcements aboutAvastin and Xeloda are therefore very welcome news for patients andtheir families as they offer more options for fighting this disease andhope that some patients may even have the potential to be cured” headded.


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