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Bowel drug "slows ovarian cancer"

A bowel, breast and lung cancer drug could extend the lives of women with ovarian cancer, according to research.

Ovarian cancer kills more than 4,000 women every year in the UK. The outlook for people with the disease is generally poor because it is often diagnosed late, but adding Avastin (bevacizumab) to chemotherapy has shown the capability to slow down progression of the disease.

This is the first promising treatment in over a decade to emerge for ovarian cancer, which leaves fewer than 40% of women alive after five years.

A Phase III trial involving 1,528 patients reveals that Avastin with chemotherapy can help women live for 18.3 months without disease progression, compared with 16 months for those on chemotherapy alone.

The data, which was published on October 11, follows a successful trial of the drug in America earlier this year.

Those results found women with ovarian cancer had an extra four to six months of life without disease progression when taking Avastin and chemotherapy.

The latest trial involved a lower dose and a shorter course of treatment. It included women with high-risk early stage as well as advanced ovarian cancer.

Manufacturer Roche will submit a licence application to the European Medicines Agency later this year with the hope of getting Avastin approved for ovarian cancer.

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