Improved Survival in Patients with Glioblastoma Following FDA Approval of Bevacizumab

Findings from a new population-based study

A new population-based study has found that patients with glioblastoma who died in 2010, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of bevacizumab, had lived significantly longer than patients who died of the disease in 2008, prior to the conditional approval of the drug for the treatment of this brain tumour. The study is published in the journal Cancer.

There has been a long debate about the effectiveness of bevacizumab in treating patients with glioblastoma, according to lead author Dr Derek Johnson, a neuro-oncologist at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. This study found that, at the population level, treatment strategies involving bevacizumab prolonged survival in patients with progressive glioblastoma.

The researchers analysed data on 5,607 adult patients from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database before and after the conditional approval of bevacizumab for the treatment of glioblastoma in 2009. The SEER database covers 18 geographic areas of the USA, which collectively represent 28% of the USA population.

The researchers studied survival in 1,715 patients with glioblastoma who died in 2006, 1,924 who died in 2008 and 1,968 who died in 2010. The difference in survival between 2008 and 2010 was highly significant and likely unrelated to any advances in supportive care. This study provides the strongest evidence to date that bevacizumab therapy improves survival in patients with glioblastoma, according to Dr Johnson.

Glioblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumour in adults and accounts for about 22% of all brain cancers.