The cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) is used to treat advanced bowel cancer in combination with chemotherapy. By targeting a protein called VEGF, Avastin inhibits the growth of tumors by cutting off their blood supply and thus depriving them of oxygen and other nutrients. In some patients, however, Avastin can cause side effects that range from minor to life-threatening. The most common Avastin side effects are:

  • high blood pressure
  • tiredness/weakness
  • clot in the vein (thrombophlebitis)
  • diarrhea
  • decreased white blood cells
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

Serious Avastin Side Effects

In rare cases, Avastin may cause serious side effects, including life-threatening medical conditions. For example, Avastin has caused some patients to develop holes in the colon called gastrointestinal perforation. This Avastin side effect, which requires surgery to repair, can sometimes lead to other side effects, including intra-abdominal infections, impaired wound healing, and internal bleeding.

Another Avastin side effect is a rare but serious neurological disorder where the brain becomes inflamed and swells. This rare side effect may occur within hours of the first Avastin dose, or this side effect may appear up to a year after Avastin treatment is started. Avastin patients who experience the following side effects may be suffering from a serious neurological disorder and should call a doctor immediately:

  • headache
  • confusion
  • vision problems
  • feeling light-headed
  • fainting
  • seizure (blackout or convulsions)

Additionally, Avastin patients who experience any of the following serious side effects should contact a doctor:

  • stomach pain with vomiting or constipation
  • black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • vomit that looks like blood or coffee grounds
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling
  • increased blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, trouble concentrating, chest pain, numbness, seizure)
  • feeling short of breath, even with mild exertion
  • swelling or rapid weight gain
  • feeling like you might pass out
  • urinating less than usual or not at all
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms
  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness
  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips

If you or a family member were treated with Avastin and suffered a serious side effect, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Please contact us today to learn about your legal rights. 

Published November 17, 2011 by