Bevacizumab (Intravenous)

Bevacizumab is an intravenous drug used in the treatment of different cancers.

Overview

Under the trade name Avastin, Bevacizumab has been used across the globe to treat a variety of cancers. It is a synthetic antibody that blocks the growth of blood vessels in the tumor, preventing and slowing growth. The drug also works to prevent the spread of cancer cells, keeping the tumor contained. This allows for more precise methods of treatment, such as targeted therapy and surgery.

Bevacizumab is only available in its trade form. No generic brands of the drug are available, and it is usually given intravenously under the supervision of a doctor. This drug is primarily used in the treatment of various cancers, but it has been tested for use with certain types of eye diseases. It is an expensive and potent medication, so it is not available over the counter or in pharmacies.

This drug may cause side effects. Many are mild, but if they become serious or persistent, contact your doctor as soon as possible. If you are allergic to any of the active or inactive ingredients in this medication, tell your doctor. Bevacizumab comes with risks, so speak to your doctor before deciding on any treatment.

Bevacizumab should only be given under the supervision of medical staff, and should be administered once every fourteen days for the best effect. It should be given intravenously, over the course of 30 - 90 minutes. While its effects may vary from patient to patient, this drug has proven very helpful in controlling the spread and growth of cancer cells.

This medication may be a therapeutic drug, meaning that it may be used in tandem with other cancer medications and treatments. It will likely not work immediately, as cancer treatments take time. If you are curious about your treatment and its effectiveness, speak to your doctor. Check-ups and tests should be given often, especially over the course of this drug's treatment period.

Condition(s) treated

Type of medicine

  • Monoclonal antibody
  • Intravenous drug

Side effects

Like any other heavy medications, Bevacizumab may cause side effects. These can vary from mild discomfort to serious issues, and should be monitored closely to gauge how your body is reacting to the drug. If you a side effect is serious, persistent or painful, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Other, non-interactive medications may be given to counteract these effects, or your doctor may suggest natural methods to cope with them.

It is important to keep in mind that, while this drug may cause discomfort, the benefits of treatment often far outweigh the possible adverse effects caused. Here is a list of common, and often harmless, side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dry mouth or dry skin
  • Changes in taste or appetite
  • Changes in vision (teary/watery eyes)
  • Headaches

These may be uncomfortable or painful, but they are often harmless. Contact your doctor if they become worrying.

If you experience any of the side effects listed below, they may be hints that you need to contact your doctor for an appointment. Most side effects are just signs that your body needs to adjust to the drug, but they may be symptoms of a larger problem.

  • Gastrointestinal problems (fever, severe constipation, excessive nausea/vomiting, sever abdominal pain or discomfort)
  • Complications after surgery (slow healing, signs of infection or tissue damage around the surgery site)
  • Hemorrhaging (internal bleeding, blood in urine/vomit/stool, frequent and heavy nosebleeds, heavy vaginal bleeding)
  • Blood clots, which may lead to heart problems, stroke, or problems in the legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Infusion reaction (chills, sweating, chest pain, etc)
  • Ovarian failure and possible infertility

If these issues become concerning, contact your doctor immediately. Should your life be in danger, contact emergency services right away. These side effects are rare, but they should not be ignored while taking Bevacizumab. Talk to your doctor if you believe you may be at risk for these issues, or have taken Bevacizumab before and experienced these symptoms.

Dosage

Dosages for Bevacizumab can vary from patient to patient, and should only be determined by your personal doctor. Your dosage can be determined by how you reacted to the first dose, the severity of your condition, your age and your medical history. There is no foolproof way to find the perfect dose on the first try, as much of the process relies on ramping the dosage up or down depending on how your body reacts.

Your doctor may start out your treatment on a low dose for your safety, and step you up to a higher dose if they feel it is necessary. Likewise, if your body rejects the medication, your doctor may lower the dosage or stop the treatment completely. If you have questions about how you may be dosed, speak to your doctor before your treatment.

This medication is given intravenously and should be administered with an infusion machine and an IV. It is usually given once every two to three weeks, depending on the frequency your doctor recommends. More aggressive treatments may require more frequent dosing.

This drug should only be given under the supervision of a doctor or trained medical professional. You may need to be monitored to make sure your body accepts the infusion and the drug requires a great deal of time to be properly administered. Bevacizumab is often given over a period of time, the shortest being thirty minutes.

For your first dose, your doctor may administer the drug slowly over a 90 minute period. This can give your body time to adjust slowly to the chemicals and allow your doctor to stop the treatment if you show signs of adverse reactions. This drug should never be given all at once, and the vial should never be given orally.

To avoid complications, make sure to receive your treatment at the same time every few weeks. Do not skip appointments, as this may cause the drug to work less effectively.

Interactions

Bevacizumab may interact with other medications. These interactions can cause both serious, adverse affects and mild discomfort, depending on the drug in question. As Bevacizumab is a strong cancer-treatment drug, your doctor may ask that you lay off your other prescriptions and medications until your treatment is finished. If is necessary that you take both medications, your doctor may reduce your dosage to avoid complications.

While it may be uncomfortable to stop taking your other prescriptions, your cancer treatment is likely more important. Remember that your doctor is only trying to minimize risk and pave your road to recovery. If you have worries or concerns, speak to your doctor and discuss your options. Your doctor maybe able to prescribe non-interactive medications and treatment methods in the place of your old ones.

One recorded interaction is between Bevacizumab and sunitinib, another cancer treatment drug. If you are already being treated with another cancer medication, talk with your doctor to make sure that none of them interact with one another and cause issues during your treatment.

It is your responsibility to report all the medications you are taking to your doctor. This includes natural drugs, over the counter medications and other prescriptions your doctor may not already be aware of. Keep a detailed list of your medications and be ready to disclose that information before your treatment. Do not start taking any new medications while being treated with Bevacizumab, and talk to your doctor before increasing the dosage of any other medications.

If you are concerned about over the counter medications for pain, nausea, allergies, and other everyday ailments, talk to your doctor and compile a list of medications that you can take safely. Depending on your condition, dosage, and medical history, it may be safe for you to take a number of over the counter medications without risk.

Warnings

Like other drugs of its nature, Bevacizumab comes with risks and precautions that should be closely followed. Ignoring these warnings, or neglecting to inform your doctor about how they may affect you, can seriously affect the outcome of your treatment. If complications occur, they can reduce the effectiveness of your treatment, cause adverse affects or even become life-threatening.

Speak to your doctor before deciding on Bevacizumab as your treatment of choice. While the benefits of treatment may far outweigh the risks, precautions and warnings should not be ignored or taken lightly. Pay close attention to how your body reacts after being given the drug and do not hesitate to report problems or issues to your doctor.

Bevacizumab poses significant risk to pregnant women and their unborn children. If you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or lack proper contraception to prevent pregnancy, talk to your doctor before beginning your Bevacizumab treatment. Pills, implants, and other forms of contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancies and harm to an unborn child. If you become pregnant while receiving this drug, contact your doctor as soon as possible. If it is completely necessary that you receive this treatment while carrying a child, talk to your doctor about the risks.

If you have recently given birth and are currently breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about how this may affect your child, as the drug can be passed on through breast milk. You may consider using other forms of feeding for your child until the drug is cleared from your system.

Children should not be given this drug. No tests have proven that is effective for children, much less safe. Cancer treatment in children may be different than it is with adults, so speak with your doctor if you're concerned about your child's health and treatment.

For seniors, your doctor may reduce your dose to minimize discomfort and complications. The kidneys of older patients may not filter out the drug properly, resulting in build-up of the drug within their system and increased side effects. Seniors and their caretakers should talk to their doctors before beginning any treatment involving Bevacizumab.

While Bevacizumab can be used as an effective treatment for many types of cancer, it also comes with a variety of risks and side effects. If you have concerns about how it may affect you or your family members, don't hesitate to contact a medical professional for advice and information.

Storage

Bevacizumab should be stored in a secure location. It is not a drug available for at-home use, so storage and handling will likely be done by the medical professionals at a hospital or cancer treatment center. This drug should be stored away from light to avoid changes in its chemical makeup. It should not be taken from its original vial until time of use and diluted forms of the drug can only be stored for up to eight hours after mixing.

This drug should be stored in cool, dark conditions, likely refrigerated. It should not be shaken during transport, before use, or during administration. Do not freeze Bevacizumab, as this may change the compound and make it less effective.

The drug should only be mixed and diluted before administration. This drug is expensive, so wasting vials is not recommended. Vials of Bevacizumab may have to be specially ordered and transported for patients requiring the treatment. Use this drug responsibly, and only dilute and infuse this drug with the recommended agents.

All handling and administration should be preformed by trained medical staff in a controlled environment. This drug should not be given by family members, untrained nurses, or by the patient themselves. User discretion is advised.

Summary

Bevacizumab, approved in 2004 for the treatment of cancer, has been tested and approved for the use in several cancer treatment plans. It has been proven to have significant, positive effects as it suppresses and prevents the spread of cancer cells. Despite its expensive and volatile nature, it has become a staple in many cancer treatments across the globe. It is one of the safer drugs used in cancer treatment, and is often used in tandem with stronger drugs like chemotherapy.

While it may have varying degrees of success in patients, any degree of treatment is likely more effective than no treatment. Your doctor may recommend this drug with other drugs, or prescribe this treatment before beginning more targeted forms of treatment. In any case, you should discuss your options with your doctor to decide the best plan of action for you.

Remember to trust your doctor, as they are trained and educated to help you. They may recommend you to other cancer specialists so you can get a better understanding of what is happening. You may be asked to do research on your medications, so you can be fully prepared going into your treatment.

That being said, only take Bevacizumab with a doctor's approval and supervision. It is not a drug to be given at home, and should only be administered in a controlled environment by professionals.

Your dosage may vary on your condition and doctor's orders, and you should have someone drive you home after your treatment. While this drug may not cause drowsiness or dizziness on its own, the infusion process or additional medications may make it hard to focus on driving. Allow family, friends or caretakers to drive you home until you know exactly how this drug affects you.

While this drug comes with risks, it may also have a number of benefits. Stay in close contact with your doctor, and report any troubling effects or symptoms as you see them.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 24, 2017
Last Updated:
April 04, 2018
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