Targeted therapies target the differences between cancer cells and normal cells.
Because they’re a newer type of treatment, they’re most likely to be given as part of cancer research trials.
Bevacizumab (Avastin®) is a targeted therapy that’s been licensed as a treatment for advanced ovarian cancer. It works by stopping the cancer developing new blood vessels. This reduces the cancer’s supply of oxygen, which may cause it to stop growing or shrink.
Bevacizumab may be given on its own or in combination with chemotherapy drugs. It comes as a liquid and is given into the vein as an infusion.
The most common side effect of bevacizumab is high blood pressure. Other less common side effects include bleeding problems, blood clots, and delayed wound-healing. Rarely bevacizumab can cause a hole in the small bowel (perforation of the bowel).
New treatments can be expensive and aren’t always widely available through the NHS. In the UK, independent bodies called the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) issue guidance on which new treatments should be funded by the NHS.
These bodies have recommended that bevacizumab is not routinely used by the NHS to treat ovarian cancer. When a drug hasn’t been approved for routine use within the NHS, it may still be possible to access it in certain situations. Your cancer specialist can advise you if this may be possible in your case.
We can have more information about what you can do if a treatment isn’t available.