Bevacizumab is an anti-cancer drug that is used to treat many types of cancer. It is mainly used to treat advanced-stage cancer which has spread to different parts of the body of the patient and cannot be treated using other treatment methods.
It is used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs depending on the type of cancer that is being treated. It contains antibodies against a specific type of growth factor. It helps to control the growth of cancer cells by inhibiting the growth factor which stimulates rapid division in cancer cells. Hence it is known as a VEGF inhibitor.
There are some common side effects of bevacizumab that affect patients. These side effects can be treated by taking some medications prescribed by the doctor.
What type of cancer is it used to treat?
Bevacizumab is commonly used to treat advanced cancer which is also known as metastatic cancer. Metastatic cancers are a type of cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be removed by surgery.
It is used to treat cancers that are at a higher stage of severity. Some of the commonly treated types of cancer are:
- Colorectal cancer that has spread to other body parts
- Cervical cancer that didn’t get better with other treatments
- Glioblastoma is a type of brain cancer
- Hepatocellular carcinoma is a type of liver cancer
- Non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer
- Ovarian epithelial cancer
- Fallopian tube cancer
- Renal cell carcinoma which is a type of kidney cancer
The dose of the drug will vary depending on the type of cancer being treated and the stage of the cancer. The dose will be decided by the doctor.
What is it given for?
Bevacizumab comes in the form of injections. These injections are given intravenously to the patient.
The dose of injection can vary according to the type of cancer, stage of cancer, and overall health of the patient.
These injections come in a sterile package that contains a colorless to pale brown solution. This injection must be given by a professional medical staff.
It is administered slowly into the body; therefore, the needle stays in place for 30 min to an hour. It is given generally every 2 to 3 weeks.
The amount of dose of bevacizumab and duration of therapy will be decided by the doctor.
What are the common side effects of bevacizumab?
There are many common side effects of bevacizumab that are observed in many patients. Although common, everyone doesn’t need to suffer from these symptoms.
Some patients experience a few other rare side effects as well. Doctors can prescribe medications if the side effects of bevacizumab get worse. Commonly observed side effects of bevacizumab include:
- Rectal bleeding
- High blood pressure
- Back pain
- Skin problems like dry and flaky skin
- Runny nose
- Changes in your sense of taste
Apart from these side effects like pain in different body parts, breathing problems, swelling, extreme tiredness, and vision problems are also observed in a few patients. If you experience such symptoms immediately contact your doctor or rush to the nearest hospital.
What are the common precautions?
There are some common precautions that one must take while taking bevacizumab drug for cancer treatment. These precautions include:
- Always tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication for any other medical condition you are suffering from. It is necessary as some drugs can interact with bevacizumab and either can cause some serious complications or inhibit the function of bevacizumab.
- Avoid taking any other medicine, vitamin, or other herbal products without consulting your doctor. There is a possibility that such supplements can affect the action of bevacizumab.
- Before going under any surgery, tell your surgeon that you are taking bevacizumab as it should be discontinued for 28 days, before the surgery and after surgery as well. It should be taken after surgery until the wounds heal completely.
- You should avoid getting pregnant or taking bevacizumab if you are already pregnant. It is proven that bevacizumab can have harmful effects on the child. Even after completing the therapy, it is advised to not get pregnant for at least 6 months.
- You should avoid breastfeeding your baby if you are taking bevacizumab as a cancer treatment. It can cause harm to the baby and lead to major issues. It is advised to avoid breastfeeding for at least 6 months even after taking bevacizumab.