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Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Jan 1;16(1):269-78. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-2439. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Bevacizumab safety in patients with central nervous system metastases.

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  • 1Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.



Patients with central nervous system (CNS) metastases were excluded from bevacizumab trials following a case of fatal cerebral hemorrhage in a patient with hepatocellular carcinoma in 1997. Safety information for bevacizumab-treated patients with CNS metastases was reviewed to determine whether general exclusion of these patients from bevacizumab treatment is still justified.


A retrospective exploratory analysis was conducted using datasets from 13 randomized controlled phase II/III trials (dataset A), two open-label single-arm safety trials (dataset B), and two prospective studies including patients with treated CNS metastases (dataset C). In datasets A and B, known CNS metastasis was an exclusion criterion; patients with CNS metastasis had unrecognized CNS metastases at study entry or developed them during the trial. All reported cerebral hemorrhage grades in patients with CNS metastases were quantified.


In dataset A, occult brain metastases were identified in 187 of 8,443 patients (91 in bevacizumab arms and 96 in non-bevacizumab arms). Three bevacizumab-treated patients (3.3%) developed grade 4 cerebral hemorrhage, whereas one control-arm patient (1.0%) developed grade 5 cerebral hemorrhage. In dataset B, 321 of 4,382 patients had initially occult CNS metastases, in whom two grade 1 and one grade 3 cerebral hemorrhage (0.9%) were reported. In 131 patients with treated CNS metastases in dataset C, one bevacizumab-treated patient (0.8%) developed grade 2 cerebral hemorrhage.


In this selected population, patients with CNS metastases are at similar risk of developing cerebral hemorrhage, independent of bevacizumab therapy. Consequently, such patients with CNS metastases from advanced/metastatic breast cancer, non-small cell lung carcinoma, and renal and colorectal cancer should not be generally excluded from bevacizumab therapy or clinical trials.

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