A trial looking at bevacizumab after surgery for melanoma skin cancer (AVAST-M)

Cancer type:

Skin cancer




Phase 3

This trial looked at whether bevacizumab after surgery helped people live longer, or stopped melanoma coming back, in people who were at high risk of recurrence. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Doctors usually treat melanoma skin cancer with surgery. After this, you have regular check ups because there is a risk that the melanoma may come back. So far, there is no strong research evidence to show that having any treatment after surgery helped people live longer. So having regular check ups by surgeons is the standard treatment.

Bevacizumab (also known as Avastin) is a type of biological therapy called a monoclonal antibody. It seeks out and blocks a particular protein which is needed for the cancer cell to grow.

Doctors already use bevacizumab to treat a number of other advanced cancers. But it wasn't known whether it would help stop melanoma coming back after surgery.

The aims of this trial were to

  • Find out if bevacizumab after surgery could help people with melanoma live longer, or delay melanoma from coming back for longer
  • Learn more about the side effects
  • Find out if there were ways to predict who would benefit most from bevacizumab

Summary of results

The trial team found that bevacizumab increased the amount of time it took for melanoma to come back after surgery.

This was a phase 3 trial. It recruited 1,343 people. It was a randomised trial.

  • 671 people had bevacizumab
  • 672 people didn't have bevacizumab but had regular check ups

After an average follow up of just over 2 years the researchers looked at the number of people whose melanoma had come back. They found that

  • The melanoma came back in 263 people treated with bevacizumab
  • The melanoma came back in 298 people who didn’t have bevacizumab

So far, there is no difference between how long the 2 groups of people lived, but it is too early to know this for sure. After this initial analysis, the trial team will continue to follow up all the people in the trial, to find out if there is a difference in how long people lived 5 years after surgery.

15 out of every 100 people (15%) who had bevacizumab had moderate to severe side effects. There was also an increased risk of high blood pressure.

The trial team concluded that bevacizumab did improve the amount of time people were free of melanoma after surgery. They are continuing to look for substances in the blood (biomarkers) that could help doctors to tell in advance who may benefit most from having bevacizumab after surgery to remove melanoma. They are also looking at whether bevacizumab could help people live longer after surgery. When these results become available we will update this summary.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed) but may not have been published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Pippa Corrie

Supported by

Cambridge Cancer Trials Centre
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
Warwick Medical School Clinical Trials Unit

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/06/014.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 702

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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