The anti-angiogenic agent bevacizumab (Avastin®) has been rationally designed to target vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key mediator of tumor angiogenesis. Based on its limited roles in adults, VEGF inhibition using bevacizumab would be expected to have limited side effects. Furthermore, because its mechanism of action is different to that of standard chemotherapeutic agents, bevacizumab would not be expected to cause typical cytotoxic agent-related toxicity or to exacerbate the toxicity of concomitant chemotherapy. We have reviewed clinical trials published to date, primarily in metastatic colorectal cancer, and describe the safety profile of bevacizumab. The review focuses on hypertension, proteinuria, arterial thrombosis, effects on wound healing, bleeding and gastrointestinal (GI) perforation, which are the principal bevacizumab-related events seen in clinical trials. These events are for the most part mild to moderate in severity and clinically manageable (hypertension, proteinuria, minor bleeding) or occur uncommonly (wound healing complications, GI perforations and arterial thrombosis). The side-effect profile of bevacizumab makes it a suitable adjunct to standard chemotherapy in settings where efficacy has been demonstrated, and it is now approved for use in the USA, the European Union and other markets worldwide.
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