Article Author:
Valerie Gerriets
Article Editor:
Anup Kasi
10/27/2018 12:31:25 PM
PubMed Link:


Bevacizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and is used for the treatment of the below conditions.  It is typically used in combination with other chemotherapy agents.

FDA-approved indications

  1. Cervical cancer: Bevacizumab is approved for use for the treatment of recurrent, persistent or metastatic cervical cancer in combination with paclitaxel and either cisplatin or topotecan.
  2. Metastatic colorectal cancer: Bevacizumab is used as a first-line or second-line therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer when used in combination with fluorouracil (FU)-based chemotherapy regimens. 
  3. Glioblastoma: Bevacizumab is approved as a single agent in patients with progressive glioblastoma following previous therapy.
  4. Non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): Bevacizumab is used as a first-line treatment in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel for recurrent, locally advanced, unresectable or metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer. 
  5. Ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer: Bevacizumab is approved for the treatment of platinum-sensitive recurrent epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer in combination with a carboplatin chemotherapy regimen or the treatment of platinum-resistant disease in combination with paclitaxel, doxorubicin or topotecan. 
  6. Metastatic renal cell carcinoma: Bevacizumab is approved for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma in combination with interferon alfa.  

Off-label indications

  1. Metastatic breast cancer
  2. Endometrial cancer
  3. Angiosarcoma
  4. Gliomas
  5. Malignant pleural mesothelioma
  6. Medulloblastoma (pediatric)
  7. Diabetic macular edema
  8. Age-related macular degeneration
  9. Hemangiopericytoma and malignant solitary fibrous tumor

Mechanism of Action

Bevacizumab is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to all known vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) isoforms. It blocks the interaction between VEGF-A and the VEGF receptors (VEGFR), primarily VEGFR-1 (fit-1) and VEGFR-2 (KDRflk-1), on the surface of endothelial cells. It is 93% human and 7% murine in the protein sequence.  The binding of VEGF-A to VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 leads to endothelial cell proliferation and the activation of survival pathways as well as the formation of new blood vessels and angiogenesis. The administration of bevacizumab, therefore, inhibits microvascular growth and angiogenesis and is used for this purpose in the setting of cancer treatment to inhibit malignant cell growth and blood vessel formation.


Bevacizumab is administered as an intravenous (IV) infusion.  It should not be given as an IV bolus or mixed with dextrose. The first infusion should be administered over a 90-minute period and subsequent infusions over 60 minutes if the first infusion is well tolerated.  Additional infusions can be given over a 30-minute period if the 60-minute infusion is well tolerated. Bevacizumab is also given off-label as an intravitreal injection for certain ophthalmic conditions. It has an elimination half-life of approximately 20 days in adults (range 11 to 50 days) and 12 days in pediatric patients (range 4 to 15 days) for IV infusions. It has an elimination half-life of 5 to 10 days when given as an intravitreal injection. Bevacizumab comes in 100 mg and 400 mg solutions in 4 mL and 16 mL, respectively.

Adverse Effects

The following adverse effects (AEs) were observed in greater than 10% of patients receiving bevacizumab, both as a single agent and in combination with other chemotherapy agents including paclitaxel, carboplatin, interferon alfa, fluorouracil and others:

Cardiovascular-related AEs

Hypertension (19% to 42%), venous thromboembolism (secondary: 21%; with oral anticoagulants), peripheral edema (15%), hypotension (7% to 15%), venous thromboembolism (8% to 14%)

Central nervous system-related AEs

Fatigue (33% to 82%), pain (8% to 62%), headache (22% to 49%), dizziness (13% to 26%), insomnia (21%), taste disorder (14% to 21%), peripheral sensory neuropathy (17% to 18%), anxiety (17%), myasthenia (13%)

Dermatology-related AEs

Alopecia (6% to 32%), exfoliative dermatitis (23%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (11%)

Endocrine-related AEs

Ovarian failure (34%), hyperglycemia (26% to 31%), hypomagnesemia (24% to 27%), weight loss (15% to 21%), hyponatremia (17% to 19%), hypoalbuminemia (11% to 16%), hypocalcemia (12%)

Gastrointestinal-related AEs

Nausea (72%), abdominal pain (33% to 61%), vomiting (33% to 52%), anorexia (35% to 43%), constipation (40%), diarrhea (21% to 39%), decreased appetite (34% to 35%), stomatitis (15% to 33%), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (19% to 24%), dyspepsia (17% to 24%), mucosal inflammation (13% to 15%)

Hematology-related AEs

Thrombocytopenia (5% to 58%), hemorrhage (40%), leukopenia (grades 3/4: 37%), pulmonary hemorrhage (4% to 31%), neutropenia (12%; grades ≥3: 8% to 27%, grade 4: 27%), bruise (17%), lymphocytopenia (12%)

Musculoskeletal-related AEs

Arthralgia (28% to 45%), myalgia (19% to 29%), limb pain (25%), back pain (12% to 21%), dysarthria (8% to 14%)

Renal-related AEs

Increased serum creatinine (13% to 16%)

Respiratory-related AEs

Epistaxis (17% to 55%), upper respiratory tract infection (40% to 47%), cough (26% to 30%), dyspnea (25% to 30%), allergic rhinitis (17%), oropharyngeal pain (16%), sinusitis (7% to 15%), nasal sign and symptoms (mucosal disorder: 14%)

Miscellaneous AEs

Infection (55%), postoperative wound complication (1% to 15%), Proteinuria (4% to 36%), urinary tract infection (22%), pelvic pain (14%)

Additional serious adverse reactions

Gastrointestinal (GI) fistulae, non-GI fistulae, arterial thromboembolic events, venous thromboembolic events, severe hypertension, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, proteinuria, infusion reactions and ovarian failure

US boxed warnings

Gastrointestinal perforations: Gastrointestinal (GI) perforations, some fatal, have been seen in patients treated with bevacizumab. It should be discontinued in patients with GI perforations. Most cases occurred within 50 days of treatment initiation. In particular, GI perforations were observed in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients.

Hemorrhage: Serious or fatal hemorrhage, including GI bleeding, central nervous system hemorrhage, vaginal bleeding, hemoptysis, and epistaxis, occurs up to five times more frequently in patients receiving bevacizumab. These reports have primarily been in patients with non-small cell lung cancer with squamous cell histology.  Intracranial hemorrhage has been observed in patients previously treated for glioblastoma.

Surgery and wound healing complications: The incidence of wound healing and surgical complications, including both serious and fatal complications, is increased in patients treated with bevacizumab. It should not be given for the 28 days prior to an elective surgical procedure or for at least 28 days following surgery or until the surgical wounds are completely healed.


There are currently no contraindications listed for bevacizumab.


Monitoring for signs of an infusion reaction is needed during infusions with bevacizumab. Additional monitoring includes CBC with differential, blood pressure monitoring every 2 to 3 weeks and monitoring for proteinuria. Additionally, patients should be monitored for signs of GI perforation, fistula, bleeding, epistaxis and both arterial and venous thromboembolism.  When bevacizumab is used off-label for diabetic macular edema, intraocular pressure, visual acuity, and signs of cataracts and retinal detachment should be monitored. US boxed warnings include GI perforation, serious or fatal hemorrhage, and surgery and wound healing complications. Additional serious adverse reactions include GI fistulae, non-GI fistulae, arterial thromboembolic events, venous thromboembolic events, severe hypertension, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, proteinuria, infusion reactions, and ovarian failure.


Mutagenicity and carcinogenicity studies have not been extensively conducted. Administration of bevacizumab in monkeys showed adverse effects on general growth and development, fertility and wound healing. Teratogenicity is suspected based on studies in rabbits. There is no recommended treatment or antidote for an overdose of bevacizumab.