Why is this medication prescribed?
Bevacizumab is used with chemotherapy to treat cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum that has spread to other parts of the body. Bevacizumab is also used with chemotherapy to treat certain types of lung cancer. Bevacizumab is also used to treat glioblastoma (a certain type of cancerous brain tumor) that has not improved or has come back after treatment with other medications. Bevacizumab is also used in combination with another medication to treat renal cell cancer (RCC, a type of cancer that begins in the kidney) that has spread to other parts of the body. Bevacizumab is also used with chemotherapy to treat cervical cancer (cancer that begins in the opening of the uterus [womb]) and certain types of ovarian (female reproductive organs where eggs are formed), fallopian tube (tube that transports eggs released by the ovaries to the uterus), and peritoneal (layer of tissue that lines the abdomen) cancer that has not improved or has come back after treatment with other medications. Bevacizumab is in a class of medications called antiangiogenic agents. It works by stopping the formation of blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to tumors. This may slow the growth and spread of tumors.
How should this medicine be used?
Bevacizumab comes as a solution to administer slowly into a vein. Bevacizumab is administered by a doctor or nurse in a medical office, infusion center, or hospital. Bevacizumab is usually given once every 2 or 3 weeks.
It should take 90 minutes for you to receive your first dose of bevacizumab. A doctor or nurse will watch you closely to see how your body reacts to bevacizumab. If you do not have any serious problems when you receive your first dose of bevacizumab, it will usually take 30 to 60 minutes for you to receive each of your remaining doses of the medication.
Bevacizumab injection may cause serious reactions during infusion of the medication. If you experience any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor immediately: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chills, shaking, sweating, headaches, chest pain, dizziness, feeling faint, flushing, itching, rash, or hives. Your doctor may need to slow down your infusion, or delay or stop your treatment if you experience these or other side effects.
Other uses for this medicine
Bevacizumab has previously been used to treat breast cancer, however, further investigation by the FDA has found that the risks associated with treatment do not justify use for the benefit found in most cases. Bevacizumab is also sometimes used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD; an ongoing disease of the eye that causes loss of the ability to see straight ahead and may make it more difficult to read, drive, or perform other daily activities). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using bevacizumab to treat your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before receiving bevacizumab,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to bevacizumab or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); irinotecan (Camptosar); and sunitinib (Sutent). Also tell your doctor if you are taking or if you have ever taken an anthracycline (a type of chemotherapy used for breast cancer and some types of leukemia) such as daunorubicin (Cerubidine), doxorubicin, epirubicin (Ellence), or idarubicin (Idamycin). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have ever been treated with radiation therapy to the left side of your chest or pelvis; and if you have or have ever had high blood pressure, or any condition that affects your heart or blood vessels (tubes that move blood between the heart and other parts of the body). Also, tell your doctor if you have recently coughed up blood.
- you should know that bevacizumab may cause infertility in women (difficulty becoming pregnant); however, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should use birth control to prevent pregnancy during your treatment with bevacizumab and for at least 6 months after your final dose. If you become pregnant while using bevacizumab, call your doctor. Bevacizumab may harm the fetus and increase the risk of a pregnancy loss.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed during your treatment with bevacizumab and for at least 6 months after your final dose.
- tell your doctor if you have recently had surgery or if you plan to have surgery, including dental surgery. If you are scheduled to have surgery, your doctor will stop your treatment with bevacizumab at least 28 days before the surgery. If you have recently had surgery, you should not receive bevacizumab until at least 28 days have passed and until the area has completely healed.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
If you miss an appointment to receive a dose of bevacizumab, call your doctor as soon as possible.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Bevacizumab may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- loss of appetite
- change in ability to taste food
- weight loss
- sores on the skin or in the mouth
- voice changes
- increased or decreased tears
- stuffy or runny nose
- muscle or joint pain
- trouble sleeping
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums; coughing up or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds; unusual bleeding or bruising; increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding; pink, red, or dark brown urine; red or tarry black bowel movements; or headache, dizziness, or weakness
- coughing, gagging, or choking after eating or drinking
- neck pain
- slow or difficult speech
- weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
- chest pain
- pain in the arms, neck, or upper back
- shortness of breath
- extreme tiredness
- change in vision or loss of vision
- sore throat, fever, chills, and other signs of infection
- swelling of the face, eyes, stomach, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- unexplained weight gain
- foamy urine
- dry, hacking cough
- pain, tenderness, warmth, redness, or swelling in one leg only
- redness, itching, or scaling of the skin
- stomach pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, shivering, or fever
Bevacizumab may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and test your urine regularly during your treatment with bevacizumab.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.