Targeted therapy for cervical cancer

Bevacizumab (Avastin®) is a targeted therapy treatment sometimes used to treat cervical cancer. It may be used if cervical cancer:

  • is advanced
  • has come back after treatment.

It cannot cure the cancer, but it may help to control it for a time.

Bevacizumab works by stopping the cancer from making blood vessels. This means that the cancer does not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs and may shrink or stop growing. The treatment is usually given in combination with chemotherapy drugs.

Bevacizumab is given into a vein as an infusion. It is usually given over about 60 minutes. The first dose can sometimes cause an allergic reaction, so it is given more slowly over about 90 minutes.

Side effects are usually mild to moderate. They can include:

  • high blood pressure
  • headaches
  • feeling sick
  • a sore mouth
  • tiredness
  • diarrhoea.

An uncommon but more serious side effect is an area of tissue breaking down in the vagina, bladder or bowel. This can cause a hole, which makes a new opening or fistula between two parts of the body, such as the vagina and bladder. If you have had radiotherapy to the pelvis, there is a higher risk of this happening with bevacizumab.

Your doctor or nurse can tell you more about possible side effects and how they can be managed.

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