Avastin With Tarceva Benefit Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Armen Hareyan's picture

Tarceva had previously shown pancreatic cancer survival advantages and now adding Avastin to Tarceva benefits pancreatic cancer patients, confirm results. This path could lead to finding future pancreatic cancer treatment options.

Adding Avastin (bevacizumab) to a combination of Tarceva (erlotinib) and chemotherapy significantly improves the time patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer live without their disease getting worse ("progression free survival"). These data, presented for the first time today at the 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago, also showed a trend towards extending life expectancy.

Pancreatic cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death in Europe and is extremely difficult to treat because it spreads rapidly to other parts of the body and often shows resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is also difficult to diagnose, with no effective early diagnostic test available so the majority of patients are diagnosed with advanced disease.

"For patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, the treatment options are limited," commented Professor Eric Van Cutsem, Professor of Medicine, Gastrointestinal Oncology Unit, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium. "The interesting results show the need for further exploring which patients benefit from the combination of gemcitabine plus Avastin and Tarceva in view of the statistically longer PFS which trends towards improved survival."


The results of the phase III AVITA (BO17706) study showed that the addition of Avastin to a Tarceva/gemcitabine combination resulted in:

  • A 37% increase in the time patients live without their disease getting worse compared to Tarceva/gemcitabine alone.

  • Almost 14% of patients experiencing a complete disappearance or shrinkage of their tumor.

  • A trend towards improved overall survival.

  • No new safety signals for Avastin.

In addition, data from the Tarceva/gemcitabine control arm were consistent with previous results from the PA3 study, reinforcing the already established survival benefits of Tarceva in pancreatic cancer.