The cancer drug Avastin may increase the risk of death from treatment side effects in some patients, say researchers.
Avastin was found to raise the likelihood of patients dying when combined with certain chemotherapy agents.
The link varied significantly with the type of chemotherapy agent used, but not with different doses or kinds of tumour.
A more than three-fold increase in risk was seen in patients receiving taxanes or platinum agents.
However, the overall incidence of fatal adverse events associated with the drug was low at 2.5%.
Experts said patients receiving Avastin should be carefully monitored and a judgment made of whether benefits outweighed risks.
Scientists analysed data from 16 trials involving a total of 10,217 patients with a range of advanced solid tumours.
The study found that compared with chemotherapy alone, the addition of Avastin was associated with a 1.46 times increase in the risk of a fatal adverse event.
Internal bleeding in the gut and lungs accounted for most deaths. Other causes included blood clots in the lungs, perforations of the gastrointestinal tract, and strokes.
Scientists led by Dr Vishal Ranpura, from Stony Brook University Medical Center, New York, reported the findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
They wrote: “It is important for physicians and patients to recognise the risks as well as the benefits associated with bevacizumab treatment and to monitor closely to identify and treat serious adverse effects.”
- Ranpura V, et al. Treatment-Related Mortality With Bevacizumab in Cancer Patients: A Meta-analysis. JAMA, 2011; 305 (5):487-494.
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