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What is the risk of intracranial bleeding during anti-VEGF therapy?


Posted on: 06/09/2008

What is the risk of intracranial bleeding during anti-VEGF therapy?

Craig P. Carden 1*, James M.G. Larkin 1, Mark A. Rosenthal 2

1 Drug Department Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK
2 Department of Medical Oncology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

 

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: craig.carden@icr.ac.uk .


   Abstract

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key mediator of physiological and pathological angiogenesis. All solid tumors are dependent on pathological angiogenesis, and anti-VEGF therapy has demonstrated clinical benefit in breast, colorectal, non-small-cell lung, and renal carcinomas. Central nervous system metastases are common in many of these tumor types. An increased risk of bleeding has been reported with anti-VEGF therapy, but the risk of intracranial bleeding is unknown with this type of therapy. We reviewed the available data to investigate the risk of intracranial bleeding with anti-VEGF therapy in the presence and absence of CNS metastases. The PubMed and Medline databases and the Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meetings were searched for articles, abstracts, and presentations of clinical trials. We identified 57 trials examining the safety and efficacy of anti-VEGF therapy in a total of 10,598 patients. Four trials examined the use of anti-VEGF therapy in treating patients with brain metastases. The presence of CNS metastases was a stated exclusion criterion in 76% of trials. The rate of intra­cranial bleeding was negligible. We conclude that there is no trial evidence that anti-VEGF therapy confers an increased risk of intracranial bleeding, even in the presence of CNS metastases. Future trials of anti-VEGF therapy should not exclude patients with controlled CNS metastases at enrollment.

Key Words: anti-VEGF therapy, bleeding, cancer, central nervous system, metastases


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