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Bevacizumab offers no benefit for newly diagnosed glioblastoma

Findings disappoint brain cancer experts seeking effective therapy

Mark R. Gilbert, M.D., professor in Neuro-OncologyA Phase III international study led by MD Anderson researchers found that the angiogenesis inhibitor bevacizumab, marketed as Avastin®, failed to increase overall survival or significant progression-free survival for glioblastoma patients in the frontline setting. MD Anderson’s Mark Gilbert, M.D., professor in Neuro-Oncology, reported the disappointing findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2013 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal form of brain cancer. More than 12,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease in 2013, with an average survival rate of less than 18 months, says Gilbert.  

“Glioblastoma is a cancer with too few effective therapies,” says Gilbert, who holds the Blanche Bender Professorship in Cancer Research. “When we launched this study, those in the field of brain cancer were excited. Bevacizumab recently received approval in the second-line (recurrent disease) setting, and we knew some physicians were already giving the drug as a frontline therapy, even with virtually no data to support that decision. It was important from a patient care and regulatory standpoint that we conduct this trial.”

Study participants on the therapy experienced a higher rate of toxicities, increased rates of symptom burden and neurocognitive decline and decreased quality of life, compared to those on a placebo. Despite the findings, Gilbert stresses that the study did not find that bevacizumab had no place in glioblastoma management.

Funding sources included Genentech and the National Cancer Institute.

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