Sunday, 29 January 2012

Next chemotherapy course

As anticipated in my last post, Katie and I have decided that I should start my next course of chemotherapy sooner rather than later. I am now due to resume treatment on Friday 17th February.

The chemo agent that I will be using is called Doxorubicin. This is given as a single, thirty minute infusion administered once every three weeks. The course involves a total of six infusions so, if all goes to plan, this treatment will last for eighteen weeks. I will have a CT scan after the first three infusions that will enable the doctors to determine if the treatment is working. As with most chemotherapy drugs there is a long list of possible side effects though one that is pretty much guaranteed is hair loss. I don’t mind this enforced epilation, in fact not having to shave is definitely a bonus!

Doxorubicin is one of the most frequently used chemotherapy treatments for LMS. It is difficult to get good information on the level of effectiveness that it offers though figures on the internet suggest that it works in around thirty percent of patients. If the treatment works it will either shrink the tumours somewhat or it will temporarily block their further growth. The duration for which the tumour growth is blocked is called the “progression free survival time” (PFS for short). In a French run study the median value of the PFS time associated with Doxorubicin treatment of LMS was found to be six and a half months. The PFS time was measured from the point at which the chemotherapy commenced so this six and a half month period included the eighteen week treatment programme for those patients who had all six infusions.

Despite the relatively limited success rate associated with Doxorubicin I am very positive about having the treatment. Statistics apply to populations, not to individuals. My previous chemotherapy treatment used a regime that has similar success statistics to Doxorubicin, however in my case it caused the tumours to shrink and gave me around eight and a half months between the start of treatment and the tumours starting to grow again.

Away from my illness, I decided to make the most of the relatively sunny morning weather yesterday and made a trip to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve at Slimbridge. I was lucky enough to see a Bittern, a very rare heron. Unfortunately I was too slow to get a photo of it; I’ll have to try harder next time!

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