What is Avastin?

Avastin (bevacizumab) is a cancer medication 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 and rectum. It is usually given as part of a combination of cancer medicines.

Avastin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information about Avastin

Avastin can make it easier for you to bleed. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have bleeding that will not stop. You may also have bleeding on the inside of your body, such as in your stomach or intestines, or in your brain.

Call your doctor at once if you have: signs of bleeding in your digestive tract– feeling very weak or dizzy, severe stomach pain, black or bloody stools, or if you cough up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; or signs of bleeding in the brain–sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, or problems with vision or balance.

Avastin should not be used within 28 days before or after a planned surgery.

Avastin can also cause problems with wound healing, which could result in bleeding or infection. Call your doctor if you have signs of any skin infection (sudden redness, warmth, swelling, or oozing), or any skin wound or surgical incision that will not heal.

Avastin 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 a 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.

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.

Before receiving Avastin

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).

To make sure Avastin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease, high blood pressure;
  • a history of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots;
  • a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder; or
  • a history of stomach or intestinal bleeding, or perforation (a hole or tear) in your esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
  • FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Avastin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

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.

It is not known whether bevacizumab passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are being treated with Avastin.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medication.