Magnitude of benefit of the addition of bevacizumab to first-line chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer: meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials
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BACKGROUND: Although the addition of bevacizumab to 1st line chemotherapy provides a significant survival benefit for advanced colorectal cancer, the magnitudes of both advantages and toxicities have not been extensively investigated. METHODS: A literature-based meta-analysis was conducted; Hazard Ratios were extracted from randomized trials for primary end-points (Progression Free Survival, PFS, Overall Survival OS). The log of event-based risk ratio were derived for secondary endpoints (objective/partial response rate, ORR/PR; severe hypertension, bleeding and proteinuria). Absolute differences and the number needed to treat/harm (NNT/NNH) were calculated. A meta-regression analysis with clinical predictors and a sensitivity analysis according to the trial phase-design were conducted as well. RESULTS: Five trials (2,728 pts) were selected. The addition of bevacizumab to 1st line chemotherapy significantly increased both PFS (although with significant heterogeneity) and OS over exclusive chemotherapy by 17.1% and 8.6% (NNT 6 and 12), regardless of the study setting (non significant interaction between phase II and III). The chance to improve PR was significantly increased by 6.5% (NNT 15), with a trend for ORR. The risk of hypertension was significantly increased by 6.2% (NNH 16). According to the meta-regression analysis, female gender and rectal primary site were significant predictors for PFS benefit. CONCLUSIONS: Notwithstanding all the concerns related to costs and the significant HTN risk, the significant outcome improvement provided by bevacizumab in first-line treatment for unselected advanced colorectal cancer patients, should be considered when choosing the appropriate up-front therapy.
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