FDA Approves Genentech Medicine for Women with Advanced Cervical Cancer

August 14th, 2014

On August 14, 2014, the FDA approved Avastin® (bevacizumab) in combination with paclitaxel and cisplatin or paclitaxel and topotecan for the treatment of women with persistent, recurrent or metastatic carcinoma of the cervix.


News in brief

  • Women with advanced cervical cancer now have the option of Avastin plus chemotherapy to help them live longer than with chemotherapy alone.
  • Prior to this approval, chemotherapy was the only approved treatment option for women whose cancer recurred, persisted or spread.
  • Avastin is approved in the United States to treat five distinct tumor types.

Supporting Information

BOXED WARNINGS and Additional Important Safety Information

Possible serious side effects

Everyone reacts differently to Avastin therapy. So it’s important to know what the side effects are. Although some people may have a life-threatening side effect, most do not. Your doctor will stop treatment if any serious side effects occur. Be sure to contact your health care team if there are any signs of these side effects.  

Most serious side effects (not common, but sometimes fatal):

  • GI perforation. A hole that develops in your stomach or intestine. Symptoms include pain in your abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or fever
  • Wounds that don’t heal. A cut made during surgery can be slow to heal or may not fully heal. Avastin should not be used for at least 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed
  • Serious bleeding. This includes vomiting or coughing up blood; bleeding in the stomach, brain, or spinal cord; nosebleeds; and vaginal bleeding. If you recently coughed up blood or had serious bleeding, be sure to tell your doctor

Other possible serious side effects

  • Abnormal passage in the body. This type of passage—known as a fistula—is an irregular connection from one part of the body to another and can sometimes be fatal
  • Severe high blood pressure. Blood pressure that severely spikes or shows signs of affecting the brain. Blood pressure should be monitored every 2 to 3 weeks while on Avastin and after stopping treatment
  • Kidney problems. These may be caused by too much protein in the urine and can sometimes be fatal
  • Infusion reactions. These were uncommon with the first dose (less than 3% of patients). 0.2% of patients had severe reactions. Infusion reactions include high blood pressure or severe high blood pressure that may lead to stroke, trouble breathing, decreased oxygen in red blood cells, a serious allergic reaction, chest pain, headache, tremors, and excessive sweating. Your doctor or nurse will monitor you for signs of infusion reactions
  • Severe stroke or heart problems. These may include blood clots, mini-stroke, heart attack, and chest pain. These can sometimes be fatal
  • Nervous system and vision problems. Signs include headache, seizure, high blood pressure, sluggishness, confusion, and blindness

Side effects seen most often

In clinical studies across different types of cancer, some patients experienced the following side effects:

  • High blood pressure
  • Too much protein in the urine
  • Nosebleeds
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Taste change
  • Dry skin
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Inflammation of the nose
  • Watery eyes

Avastin is not for everyone

Talk to your doctor if you are:

  • Undergoing surgery. Avastin should not be used for 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed
  • Pregnant or think you are pregnant. Data have shown that Avastin may harm your unborn baby. Use birth control while on Avastin. If you stop Avastin, you should keep using birth control for 6 months before trying to become pregnant
  • Planning to become pregnant. Taking Avastin could cause a woman’s ovaries to stop working and may impair her ability to have children.
  • Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding while on Avastin may harm your baby and is therefore not recommended 

If you have any questions about your condition or treatment, talk to your doctor.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Please see full Product Information, including Serious Side Effects, for additional important safety information.


Sandra Horning, M.D.

“With this approval, women with advanced cervical cancer now have the option of Avastin plus chemotherapy to help them live longer than with chemotherapy alone. Cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44, and until today, chemotherapy was the only approved treatment option for women whose cancer recurred, persisted or spread.”