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Avastin

Generic Name: bevacizumab (bev a CIZ oo mab)
Brand Names: Avastin, Mvasi

Medically reviewed on Jul 2, 2018

What is Avastin?

See also: Xeloda

Avastin (bevacizumab) is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Avastin is used to treat a certain type of brain tumor, and certain types of cancers of the kidney, lung, colon, rectum, cervix, ovary, or fallopian tube.

Avastin is also used to treat cancer of the membrane lining the internal organs in your abdomen. It is usually given as part of a combination of cancer medicines.

Important Information

Avastin can make it easier for you to bleed. Seek emergency medical attention if you have any bleeding that will not stop. You may also have bleeding on the inside of your body.

Call your doctor if you have: signs of bleeding in your digestive tract--feeling very weak or dizzy, severe stomach pain, black or bloody stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; or signs of bleeding in the brain--sudden numbness or weakness, slurred speech, severe headache, problems with vision or balance.

Avastin can also cause problems with wound healing, which could result in bleeding or infection. Do not use Avastin within 28 days before or after a planned surgery.

Bevacizumab can cause a rare but serious neurologic disorder affecting the brain. Symptoms include headache, confusion, vision problems, feeling very weak or tired, fainting, and seizure (blackout or convulsions). These rare symptoms may occur within hours of your first dose of Avastin, or they may not appear for up to a year after your treatment started. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these side effects.

Some people receiving an Avastin injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, sweaty, itchy, or have a fast heartbeat, chills, wheezing, or chest pain during the injection.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Avastin if you are allergic to bevacizumab, or:

  • if you have slow healing of a skin wound or surgical incision;

  • if you have had surgery within the past 4 weeks (28 days);

  • if you have recently been coughing up blood; or

  • if you plan to have surgery within the next 4 weeks (28 days).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart disease, high blood pressure;

  • a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots;

  • a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder; or

  • stomach or intestinal bleeding, or perforation (a hole or tear) in your esophagus, stomach, or intestines.

In animal studies, bevacizumab caused birth defects. However, it is not known whether these effects would occur in humans. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.

Avastin may cause a woman's ovaries to stop working correctly. Symptoms of ovarian failure include 3 or more missed menstrual periods in a row. This may affect your fertility (ability to have children). Talk to your doctor about your specific risks.

You should not breast-feed while using Avastin.

How is Avastin given?

Avastin is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Tell your caregivers if you feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, sweaty, or have a headache, shortness of breath, or chest pain during the injection.

Avastin is usually given once every 2 or 3 weeks.

You will need frequent medical tests.

Avastin can cause problems with wound healing, which could result in bleeding or infection. If you need to have any type of surgery, you will need to stop receiving bevacizumab at least 28 days ahead of time. Do not start using Avastin for at least 28 days after surgery, or until your surgical incision heals.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Avastin injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving Avastin?

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Avastin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Avastin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Avastin can make it easier for you to bleed. Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have:

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, rectum), or any bleeding that will not stop;

  • signs of bleeding in your digestive tractsevere stomach pain, bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; or

  • signs of bleeding in the brainsudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, problems with vision or balance.

Avastin can cause a rare but serious neurologic disorder affecting the brain. Symptoms may occur within hours of your first dose, or they may not appear for up to a year after your treatment started. Call your doctor at once if you have extreme weakness or tiredness, headache, confusion, vision problems, fainting, or seizure (blackout or convulsions).

Some people receiving Avastin have developed a fistula (an abnormal passageway) within the throat, lungs, gallbladder, kidney, bladder, or vagina. Call your doctor if you have: chest pain and trouble breathing, stomach pain or swelling, urine leakage, or if you feel like you are choking and gagging when you eat or drink.

Also call your doctor if you have:

  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs;

  • chest tightness or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;

  • missed menstrual periods;

  • low white blood cell counts - fever, mouth sores, skin sores, sore throat, cough, trouble breathing;

  • signs of any skin infectionsudden redness, warmth, swelling, or oozing, or any skin wound or surgical incision that will not heal; or

  • increased blood pressuresevere headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, anxiety, nosebleed.

Side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Common Avastin side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Avastin?

Other drugs may interact with bevacizumab, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Avastin only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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