Avastin is a medicine used to treat cancer in the bowel, lung, breast or kidney.
Why have I been prescribed Avastin?
- Avastin is a medicine used for the treatment of advanced cancer in the large bowel, i.e., in the colon or rectum. Avastin will be administered in combination with chemotherapy treatment containing a fluoropyrimidine medicine.
- Avastin is also used for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. When used for patients with breast cancer, it will be administered with a chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel or docetaxel.
- Avastin is also used for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Avastin will be administered together with a chemotherapy regimen containing platinum.
- Avastin is also used for treatment of advanced kidney cancer.
How does it work?
- Avastin binds selectively to a protein called human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is found on the lining of blood and lymph vessels in the body. VEGF causes blood vessels to grow within tumours, these blood vessels provide the tumour with nutrients and oxygen.
- Once bevacizumab is bound to VEGF, it stops VEGF working properly. This has the effect of preventing tumour growth by blocking the growth of the blood vessels providing the nutrients and oxygen to the tumour.
When and how do I take it?
- Avastin is a concentrate for solution for infusion. Depending on the dose prescribed for you, some or all of the contents of the Avastin vial will be diluted with sodium chloride solution before use. A doctor or nurse will give you this diluted Avastin solution by intravenous infusion.
- The first infusion will be given to you over 90 minutes. If this is well-tolerated the second infusion may be given over 60 minutes. Later infusions may be given to you over 30 minutes.
What’s the dose?
The dose of Avastin needed depends on your body weight and the kind of cancer to be treated. The recommended dose is 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg or 15 mg per kilogram of your body weight. Your doctor will prescribe a dose of Avastin that is right for you. You will be treated with Avastin once every 2 or 3 weeks. The number of infusions that you receive will depend on how you are responding to treatment; you should continue to receive this medicine until Avastin fails to stop your tumour growing. Your doctor will discuss this with you.
Could it interact with other tablets?
- Please tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines, including medicines obtained without a prescription.
- Please tell your doctor if you have recently received, or are receiving, radiotherapy.
Herbal products should also only be taken after talking with your doctor.
What are the possible risks or side-effects?
- Like all medicines, Avastin can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them.
- If any of the side effects gets serious, or if you notice any side effects not listed in this leaflet, please tell your doctor or pharmacist.
The side effects listed below were seen when Avastin was given together with chemotherapy. This does not necessarily mean that these side effects were strictly caused by Avastin.
If you have an allergic reaction, tell your doctor or a member of the medical staff straight away. The signs may include:
- difficulty in breathing or chest pain. You could also experience redness or flushing of the skin or a rash, increase muscle tension, feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting).
You should seek help immediately if you suffer from any of the below mentioned side effects.
The common side effects are:
- perforation of the gut,
- bleeding, including bleeding in the lungs in patients with non-small cell lung cancer,
- blocking of the arteries by a blood clot,
- blocking of the veins in the lungs by a blood clot.
The severe side effects, which may be very common, include:
- high blood pressure,
- problems with wound healing after surgery,
- feeling of numbness or tingling in hands or feet,
- decreased number of cells in the blood, including white cells that help to fight against infections (this may be accompanied by fever), and cells that help the blood to clot,
- lack of energy or tiredness,
- diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
The severe side effects, which may be common, include:
- allergic reactions,
- decreased number of red cells in the blood,
- bleeding associated with the tumour,
- lack of energy,
- abdominal pain,
- muscle pain,
- dry mouth in combination with thirst and/or reduced or darkened urine,
- inflammation of the lining of the mouth,
- pain, including headache,
- blood clots in the veins of the legs or difficulties in getting the blood to clot,
- localised pus collection,
- infection, and in particular infection in the blood or bladder,
- reduced blood supply to the brain or stroke,
- blood clots in the arteries, which can lead to a stroke and a heart attack,
- falling asleep or fainting,
- problems with the heart with breathing difficulties,
- nose bleed,
- increase in heart rate (pulse),
- blockage in the gut or bowel,
- abnormal urine test (protein in the urine),
- shortness of breath or low levels of oxygen in the blood.
The severe side effects, which may be rare, include:
- seizures (fits),
- changes in vision,
- an abnormal tube-like connection between the windpipe and the passage to the stomach (gullet).
You should seek help as soon as possible if you suffer from any of the below mentioned side effects:
The very common side effects, which were not severe, include:
- high blood pressure,
- pain, including joint pain,
- lack of energy,
- constipation, bleeding from the lower part of the large bowel, inflammation of the mouth,
- loss of appetite,
- protein in the urine,
- nose bleed,
- problems with the eyes (including increased production of tears).
The common side effects, which were not severe, include:
- shortness of breath,
- nose bleed,
- runny nose,
- dry skin, flaking and inflammation of the skin, change in skin colour,
- change in the sense of taste,
- voice changes, hoarseness.
Can I drink alcohol while taking it?
- There are no known interactions between alcohol and Avastin
- Always ask you doctor or pharmacist however as other medications you are taking may have a bearing on this.
What if I’m pregnant/breastfeeding?
- Avastin cannot be used during pregnancy.
- You must not breast-feed your baby during treatment with Avastin and for at least 6 months after the last dose of Avastin, as this medicine may interfere with the growth and development of your baby.
If you have any more questions please ask your Pharmacist.
Remember to keep all medicines out of reach of children
Please Note: We have made every effort to ensure that the content of this information sheet is correct at time of publish, but remember that information about drugs may change. This sheet does not list all the uses and side-effects associated with this drug. For full details please see the drug information leaflet which comes with your medicine. Your doctor will assess your medical circumstances and draw your attention to any information or side-effects which may be relevant in your particular case.