Avastin Side Effects
While most people have no problems when taking Avastin, side effects can occur. Commonly reported ones include nausea, stomach pain, high blood pressure, and vomiting. These side effects are generally mild and easily treated. However, some reactions to Avastin should be reported to your healthcare provider right away, including signs of a hole in the intestines, unusual bruising, and signs of an allergic reaction.
An Introduction to Avastin Side EffectsAs with any medicine, side effects are possible with Avastin® (bevacizumab); however, not everyone who takes the drug will experience problems. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can be treated easily by you or your healthcare provider.
In late 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that Avastin's breast cancer approval be removed. Studies have not shown the drug to increase survival in people with breast cancer, and there is not sufficient benefit to outweigh the risks.
This action does not affect Avastin's approval for other uses. Healthcare providers may still use Avastin to treat breast cancer, although they will be doing so in an "off-label" fashion.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Avastin. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)
Common Side Effects of AvastinAvastin has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials, in which a group of people taking the drug have side effects documented and compared to another group not taking the medicine. Because Avastin is designed to be used in combination with chemotherapy (for most uses), these studies usually compared chemotherapy plus Avastin to chemotherapy alone. Therefore, reported side effects could be due to either Avastin or chemotherapy.
In these studies, the most common side effects seen with Avastin plus chemotherapy that occurred more frequently than side effects of chemotherapy alone included:
- Scaly, peeling skin -- in up to 84 percent of people
- High blood pressure (hypertension) -- up to 67 percent
- Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- up to 61 percent
- General weakness -- up to 57 percent
- Infections -- up to 55 percent
- Vomiting -- up to 52 percent
- Upper respiratory tract infection (such as the common cold) -- up to 47 percent
- Fatigue -- up to 45 percent
- Loss of appetite -- up to 43 percent.
Care must be taken when interpreting these numbers. With many of these side effects, most of the cases were likely caused by chemotherapy, not Avastin, although the drug may slightly increase the risk of such side effects. Your healthcare provider is the best source for information about the side effects you can expect with your particular combination of medications.
(Click Chemotherapy Side Effects for more information.)
Other common side effects of Avastin plus chemotherapy (occurring in 2 to 40 percent of people) included:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Muscle pain
- Shortness of breath
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Changes in taste
- Weight loss
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Voice changes
- Dry mouth
- Skin sores.