Treatment Update

This update is overdue. But like my original cancer diagnosis (followed by the rapid transition to a treatment regime) it is “better late than never”.

Three weeks ago I had a further PT scan following the outstanding ‘post -chemo’ scan result I had in late March.In short it indicated that some cancer activity had recommenced (albeit on a vastly reduced scale compared to my ‘starting’ point).

I will very soon get a better understanding from my radiologist ( and now friend, Trevor FitzJohn)as to what the detailed data actually showed. But it was enough for my oncologist and me to decide that it was time to produce our next weapon to help me  progress  my journey – the drug Tarceva.

As`I have explained earlier this drug targets a specific “oncogene” mutation I have(Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor, or “EGFR”, mutation which appears to be present in around 15% of the lung cancer population ). My basic understanding of the molecular biology surrounding  this mutation is that it causes the EGF gene to be overactive  and leads to the excessive cell division and growth that is a fundamental characteristic of cancer.

Tarceva (and its competitor drug,Iressa) interfere with this aberrant process and inhibit the cell division and growth.Drugs have been or are currently being developed which target similar growth receptor mutations present in some other forms of cancer, including Herceptin for breast cancer and new drugs which target the BRAF gene in metastatic melanoma( and which have recently received a lot of publicity).

I take Tarceva in tablet form once a day.

The side effects include a rash which often appears on the throat and face and can vary from mild to quite nasty.The nasty end of the spectrum can be so severe as to preclude the effective application of the drug.I have been fortunate to experience a relatively mild rash which appears to be manageable with over-the -counter products.

Most important,I continue to feel healthy and lead a full life.

Tarceva fends off the progress of non small cell lung cancer for a period which appears to vary significantly among those who have the EGFR mutation .My oncologist reports that some of his patients have survived and continue to survive for “years”,living a healthy life with their cancer effectively dormant.

And that ,of course ,is the outcome I hope and intend for myself.

Following  my earlier ”special day” Treatment Update post one of my friends ,who  is a cancer survivor , congratulated me on my progress but made the point that I should also expect ahead the “road bumps” that  the cancer journey inevitably involved.

He was right.

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4 Responses

  1. Mark Clare says:

    Keep doing just what you are Rob. There will be bumps. Just keep going – and stay positive. Kia kaha.

  2. Warrick says:

    Road bumps – best handled by looking straight ahead, neither left nor right (until the election), and not doing anything rash!

    This is the Tour de Rob and we’re all standing on the roadside cheering you on at the hill climbs! We think you’ve got plenty left.

    Lots of love, Warrick and Robyn

  3. Phyl says:

    Keep the good times firmly in your mind Rob and I am sure they will overtake the road bumps really quickly..
    Love you

  4. Don says:

    when I last spoke to you I had not read the Listener article – so was not really aware of the return of cancer activity. You also had a cold which sounded nasty. You are in the best hands with your team around you – both medical and family. Combine this with your approach and it is a “bump” to be dealt with and move on. All my love and support to you and Maureen.
    Kia kaha my brother

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