Generic Name Brand Name
bevacizumab Avastin

How It Works

Bevacizumab belongs to a group of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies. It blocks a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that helps cancer cells grow and multiply. Bevacizumab inhibits the ability of the cancer to form and grow new blood vessels. Bevacizumab is an intravenous (IV) drug.

Why It Is Used

Bevacizumab is used with fluorouracil, leucovorin, and irinotecan (IFL) to treat metastatic colorectal cancer. It is also used with paclitaxel for treating metastatic breast cancer. For lung cancer, it is used with carboplatin and paclitaxel.

How Well It Works

When used to treat some cases of metastatic colorectal cancer, the combination of bevacizumab and IFL may slow tumor growth. People in one study who were treated with bevacizumab and IFL survived an average of 5 months longer than people who did not receive bevacizumab.1

Bevacizumab combined with carboplatin and paclitaxel has been shown to help people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer live longer.2

Side Effects

Bevacizumab can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Holes in the colon (perforation) that may require surgical repair.
  • Bleeding in the lungs, when the medicine is used with chemotherapy for lung cancer.
  • Stroke .
  • Heart failure .
  • Blood clots.

Other side effects can include:

  • Delayed wound healing.
  • Kidney damage.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Headache.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Weakness and fatigue.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Bevacizumab should be administered only under the supervision of a medical oncologist.

Bevacizumab may cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.

Bevacizumab has been approved for use only by adults. There is no specific information comparing use of bevacizumab in children with use in other age groups.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Hurwitz H, et al. (2004). Bevacizumab plus irinotecan, fluorouracil, and leucovorin for metastatic colorectal cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(23): 2335–2342.
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2006). FDA approves new combination therapy for lung cancer. FDA News. Available online:

Last Updated: October 1, 2008

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