GENERIC NAME : BEVACIZUMAB
Avastin, trade name for Bevacizumab, is classified as a monoclonal antibody and/or anti-angiogenesis drug. It is a comparatively new type of cancer therapy. Antibodies are an essential part of the immune system. The body creates antibodies in response to an antigen entering the body. These antibodies attach themselves to the antigen, to mark it for destruction by the body’s immune system. Avastin allows human body to target specific cells, causing less toxicity to healthy cells. It works by interfering with the process of angiogenesis by targeting and inhibiting human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is a cytokine (a small protein released by cells that have specific effects on the behavior of cells) which when it interacts with its receptors in the cell leads to new blood vessel formation or angiogenesis.
Treatment with Avastin
Avastin is used to treat a number of types of cancers and a specific eye diseases. It is injected into a vein through an IV under the guidance of a healthcare professional, with first dosage given over 90 minutes. For age-related macular degeneration it is given by injection into the eye. Avastin is usually given once every 2 or 3 weeks.
The patient must take certain measures before and while using Avastin to ensure proper treatment and avoid any unreasonable scenario. These include :-
* Before starting the treatment, one must always tell their doctor about any other medications that the patient is taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies etc.).
* The patient must not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without the consulting doctor’s approval while using Avastin and till six months after the treatment.
* To not conceive a child (get pregnant) while using Avastin. Various methods of contraception such as condoms and birth control pills are recommended.
* To not breast feed while taking avastin.
* Stay hydrated.
* Take the prescribed anti-nausea medication prescribed by the doctor, in case you experience nausea.
* Wash hands, use sanitizer, stay clean.
* Since your body is at risk of infection, report for any signs of infection, including fever.
* Prevent mouth sores, contact the healthcare professional for advice.
* Do not consume any alcoholic beverage.
* Consume a balanced diet, timely.
* In case of any symptom or side effect, consult the doctor immediately.
Almost every treatment and drug used for treating cancer comes with it’s fair share of side effects. But Avastin, in comparison, has recorded fewer types of them with mild severity. Some of the side effects are :-
* Hair loss
* Mouth sores
* Pain in general, especially in abdomen and back
* Nausea & vomiting
* Loss of appetite
* Upper respiratory infection
* Low white blood cell count
* Proteinuria ( Too much protein in urine )
* Nose bleed
* High blood pressure
* Rectal bleeding
* Dry skin
* Inflammation of skin and nose
* Watery eyes
Not for everyone
Every drug must be used with proper guidance keeping in mind and exercising appropriate precautions. Similarly, Avastin is not meant to be used by everyone. Some broad cases must not be prescribed Avastin to avoid further problems. These groups include
* Patients Undergoing Surgery – it should not be used for 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed as the body is in risk of catching infection.
* Pregnant or breastfeeding – it can be severely harmful for the unborn baby. Women are suggested to use birth control while on Avastin. If one stops Avastin, one must keep using birth control for 6 months before trying to become pregnant. Taking this medicine could cause a woman’s ovaries to stop working and may impair her ability to have children. Breastfeeding while on Avastin is harmful for the baby baby and thus never recommended