Colon Cancer Home > Avastin

Avastin is prescribed to treat certain types of cancer -- namely, colon, rectal, and non-squamous, non-small cell cancer. The drug binds to and inhibits a certain type of protein that encourages the growth of new blood vessels. As a result, the cancer is essentially "starved" of its blood supply. Avastin is given by injection at your healthcare provider's office. Side effects include stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea.

What Is Avastin?

Avastin® (bevacizumab) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of the following conditions:


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.


(Click Avastin Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

Avastin is made by Genentech, Inc.

How Does It Work?

Avastin is part of a group of medications known as monoclonal antibodies. The drug is an antibody that is designed to bind to and inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is a naturally occurring protein that encourages the growth of new blood vessels (including those that feed cancers). By binding to VEGF, Avastin prevents this protein from encouraging new blood vessel growth, essentially helping to "starve" the cancer of its blood supply. Because the drug does not directly kill cells, it is not considered a chemotherapy medication and does not cause many of the usual chemotherapy side effects. However, it is approved only to be used in combination with chemotherapy.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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