A DRUG that cuts the blood supply to tumours can significantly extend the lives of women with advanced cervical cancer, a study has shown.

Compared with those on chemotherapy alone, patients taking Avastin typically lived nearly four months longer.

The percentage of patients responding to therapy also increased by one-third from 36% to almost half with the addition of Avastin.

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The targeted drug, generically known as bevacizumab, is a laboratory-made antibody that directly combats the generation of tumour-nourishing blood vessels.

It is approved within the EU for advanced stages of bowel, ovarian, breast, lung and kidney cancers. Around 300 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed every year in Scotland and doctors said there was a desperate need for more treatment options for the disease.

The latest results from the Phase III GOG240 trial, funded by the US National Cancer Institute.

A total of 452 women with advanced cervical cancer who were not responding to standard treatment took part in the study in the US and Spain.

Women given chemotherapy alone typically lived 13.3 months while those on Avastin survived for 17 months.

Dr Mary McCormack, consultant clinical oncologist at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "There is a desperate need for more treatment options for advanced cervical cancer, so it is very encouraging to see that Avastin given with chemotherapy extends survival by four months without compromising patients'quality of life."