A Phase III clinical trial has found that long-term treatment with cancer drug Avastin may help keep advanced ovarian cancer in check.

The study showed that women who took Avastin for up to ten months during standard chemotherapy lived about four months longer without signs of cancer growth than women who only received chemotherapy.

MD Robert A. Burger, director of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, said that taking Avastin during and after chemotherapy reduced the risk of cancer progression by 28% more than chemotherapy alone.

Avastin, manufactured by Roche, cuts off the supply of nutrient-rich blood to tumours, and is already being used to treat breast, lung and colorectal cancers, usually in combination with chemotherapy.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trial was conducted by the Gynecologic Oncology Group researchers and sponsored by the US National Cancer Institute. It involved 1,873 previously untreated women with advanced disease from 336 sites in four countries.

According to the American Cancer Society, around 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed this year, and about 15,000 women will die from the disease.