Fun drugs

More on Treatment

by Maggie Jones

So lots of questions coming in make me realize I went pretty fast through the details of the current treatment plan.  Here it is in a little more details:

Wednesday was my only planned round of radiation. It was one intense session aimed at the two little tumors in my brain. The side effects will last for about a month (nausea, fatigue, possible hair loss, etc).  Doing just this one round of intense radiation let me start taking the targeted therapy, Xalkori, as early as possible  – Thursday, in fact.

I could have elected to do radiation on my eye but, in order to avoid damaging other critical tissues, that would have needed to be spread over 5 weeks. 5 weeks was much too long to wait to start Xalkori so we’re just not worried about the eye for now.  Maybe the Xalkori will help shrink that tumor, too.

Xalkori (generic crizotinib)
This is the targeted treatment that has been proven to reduce tumor size in patients with my ROS1 mutation. I’ve dug up a few studies on Xalkori in ROS1+ patients.

    • In the first study used on Pfizer’s website, 32 of 50 patients had the spread of cancer lessened, or had tumors that shrank.  1 of 50 patients had all signs of cancer disappear.  On average, the tumors resumed growing after 18.3 months.
    • The second study I read was focused on East Asian patients. 69 of 127 experienced progression free survival averaging 13.4 months.
    • Two more small-scale studies showed 1 of 14 and 2 of 36 ROS1+ patients going into complete remission.

Overall, Xalkori is used to extend patient lives.  Doctor’s prescribe it to be taken until the tumors become acclimated and return or the side effects are too much to bear.  Nevertheless, to me it’s very encouraging that some ROS1+ patients go into remission.  Even if this doesn’t happen to me, cancer treatment is accelerating so quickly that 2 more years of life will mean tons more advanced treatments being available.

So for me the plan is to take Xalkori for as long as it works. If it stops working, there are other targeted therapies and immunotherapies available to try next.  We’re starting with this one because it generally has the highest success rate.

Let me know if any of this is unclear or you have other questions!

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