Apoptosis, that is. (Cell Suicide)
I need the cancer cells in my brain to die. Irinotecan may be the chemo to get them to kill themselves.
Remember, I used to work in advertising. Such a sensationalized headline would have never been approved by editors but since I’m in control here, I can get away with it (although Tina did voice some concern about it).
So to be perfectly clear, things are going great! I feel fantastic, mentally, physically and emotionally. I’m still asymptomatic but we know the tumor grew fast and is probably still progressing. We are encouraged by today’s events and excited about tomorrow’s. Sorry if the headline threw you for a loop.
We recently (not actually yesterday, but last Friday) met with my Emory oncologist. They don’t have any clinical trials that appeal to me. Too much risk and not enough reward. We were encouraged to seek out other trials and if nothing better is available a suggestion was made to employ a chemotherapy used back in the 70’s — DOX (docirubicin). Well, Dox is not used to treat GBM, but there are some studies that indicate that it MIGHT be helpful. And it’s FDA approved, so we can jump on it.
I also discontinued using the NovoTTF device.
Tina and I continue the quest to explore my treatment options. First stop: The Atlanta Cancer Care Center (ACC).
This is a much smaller facility than any of the other places we have been to, including Emory, UAB, Rush University and Northwestern Memorial. But they offer a clinical trial that interested us that the other places could not. Plus they are right down the road from home. Unfortunately my circumstances would have put me into a group of the treatment trial where I may not get the experimental drug. I don’t want to go down that road again. As an alternative, the fantastic oncologist recommended a regimen of bi-weekly intravenous infusions of Bevacizumab and Irinotecan.
Bevacizumab, better known by it’s trade name, Avastin, is an anti-angiogenesis drug. Put simply, it interferes with the formation of new blood vessels that would feed the cancer cells, in effect, starving them to death. While there could be some unpleasant side effects, it seems that most people deal with it just fine.
Irinotecan is an anti-cancer chemotherapy. This FDA-approved drug works by causing cell apoptosis (self-death, suicide). I’m more likely to experience side effects, but they still aren’t expected to be too unbearable.
When we asked about Dox (an Emory suggestion) the ACC oncologist told us that drug is nick-named Red Devil. In other words, a chemo with very unpleasant side effects and no real evidence of helping GBM.
If we go with the ACC plan, the best case scenario is that the tumor stops growing. An ultimate scenario is that the tumor actually shrinks. We are on-board with this treatment. If we don’t hear anything better tomorrow, I will begin chemo on Tuesday of next week.
Second Stop: The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University
We flew to Raleigh, NC this afternoon and have an early morning appointment at Duke.
We are excited to hear what the renowned brain cancer specialists at Duke have to say. Let you know soon.