Targeted (biological) therapies

Targeted (biological) therapies for ovarian cancer

Targeted therapies target the differences between cancer cells and normal cells.

Bevacizumab (Avastin®) is a targeted therapy drug that is licensed to treat 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 isn’t widely available in the UK. It has not been approved by the organisations that advise the NHS on which drugs should be funded. Some women may have it as part of cancer research trials.

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 also have more information about what you can do if a treatment isn’t available.

You usually have bevacizumab in combination with chemotherapy and then on its own. Your nurse will give it to you into a vein as an infusion (drip).

The most common side effect 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).

We have more detailed information about how targeted therapies work, and the drug bevacizumab.