Kidney Failure: A Potential Side Effect of Avastin?

Examining Avastin and its adverse effects

Avastin drug
Image courtesy Genentech

Avastin (bevacizumab) is a drug that targets a type of protein (VEGF) present in many colon tumors. By doing so, it helps prevent tumors from spreading to other locations in the body (metastasizing).

Some research has shown that adding Avastin to a chemotherapy regimen can help people with advanced colorectal cancer live longer. However, Avastin's manufacturer has issued warnings about certain risks associated with the drug, and a study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy reported another potential side effect -- kidney failure.

Details of the Study

It's important to note that the study was a case report, which means it talked about one person's experience. Specifically, a 26-year-old male with leiomyosarcoma (a rare form of colorectal cancer) developed kidney failure while being treated with Avastin and the researchers decided the Avastin had caused it.

The results of this case report do not indicate that people taking Avastin need to worry about developing kidney failure. I'm passing this information along just in case someone who's taking Avastin experiences symptoms of kidney failure, so they can put two-and-two together faster. Symptoms can include fluid retention, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, muscle twitching, and seizures. 

Related Research Summaries:

Other Treatments for Colorectal Cancer:

In addition to Avastin, a drug that specifically targets colorectal cancer, there are other treatments available for this disease.

Of note, specific treatment of colorectal disease in large part depends on the severity or stage of the disease.

Here are some ways in which colorectal is treated:

  • surgical removal (resection) of the tumor, the affected segment of bowel, draining lymph nodes and portions of attached organs;
  • systemic therapy or chemotherapy, including drugs such as 5-FU, capecitabine, and leucovorin;
  • radiotherapy for people with rectal cancer;
  • regular surveillance after surgery, chemotherapy, and other interventions to ensure that the cancer doesn't return.

Fortunately during the past 30 years, our understanding of colorectal cancer has improved. We now know much more about this cancer's pathogenesis, its causes, and its potential risk factors. Furthermore, we now better understand how to screen for this disease and prevent serious illness. Moreover, a bunch of drugs are in the pipeline to treat earlier stages of this disease, and multidisciplinary approaches are further advancing treatment of this disease. Looking forward, experts are optimistic that treatment of this deadly disease will only improve. Nevertheless, the best way to deal with colorectal cancer is to catch it early using screening methods such as colonoscopy.

Source: Barakat, R. and Singh, N. "Interstitial Nephritis Secondary to Bevacizumab Treatment in Metastatic Leiomyosarcoma." The Annals of Pharmacotherapy 41.4 (2007): 707-710. Accessed 21 Apr. 2007.

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