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FDA Continues Debate as Cancer Centers Reaffirm Avastin for Breast Cancer Treatment

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The debate over the use of Avastin for advanced breast cancer took another turn Monday when the National Comprehensive Cancer Network -- a group of leading cancer centers -- reaffirmed its existing recommendation that the drug be used for women with advanced breast cancer.  This contradicts the recommendations of an FDA advisory panel which this summer voted 12 to 1 that  Avastin did not prolong life for women with breast cancer, and may in fact cause harm.

The FDA is in the midst of trying to decide whether to pull the breast cancer indication for the drug. 

The NCCN does agree that Avastin doesn't appear to improve overall survival, but does appear to slow the progression of the disease, so women have better quality of life for a longer period of time.  

Avastin is also approved for lung, kidney and colon cancer.  Doctors could prescribe it off-label for breast cancer, but then insurance probably wouldn’t cover it.  The drug can cost thousands of dollars a year.

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