Background: Several phase-III studies have shown improvements in terms of progression-free survival (PFS) with bevacizumab when added to chemotherapy in advanced breast cancer. However, the extent of improvement varied and none of the trials showed benefit in terms of overall survival (OS).
Patients and methods: All patients with metastatic breast cancer treated with bevacizumab at our Institution between 2005 and 2011 were retrospectively analyzed. A control group was matched according to the following variables: receptor status, treatment line, type of chemotherapy, presence of visceral disease and age.
Results: All 212 patients were evaluable for toxicity, and 198 for response; 430 controls allowed a complete matching for 85 bevacizumab-treated patients. The addition of bevacizumab to chemotherapy significantly prolonged PFS (9.3 vs. 7.6 months, hazard ratio [HR]=0.70, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.51-0.97, p=0.031) and OS (28.9 vs. 22.6 months, HR=0.67, 95% CI=0.45-0.99, p=0.043). Clinical benefit rate (overall response rate + stable disease for at least six months) was significantly better in the bevacizumab group (75% vs. 59%, p=0.002), while ORR did not differ significantly (48% vs. 35%, p=0.21). Patients developing hypertension during treatment had a more favourable outcome (PFS 13.7 vs. 6.6 months, HR=0.34, 95% CI=0.23-0.49 p<0.001; 2-year OS 78% vs. 30%, HR=0.20, 95% CI=0.12-0.35, p<0.001).
Conclusion: Bevacizumab in addition to chemotherapy prolonged PFS and OS in a non-selected, partly intensively pre-treated breast cancer population. Hypertension induced by bevacizumab predicted therapy efficacy.
Keywords: Breast cancer; bevacizumab; hypertension; matched pair; metastatic disease; predictive markers; survival.