Saturday, January 02, 2010

Herceptin Innovation re HER2+ Breast Cancer

Only the new Four Seasons, er, Sloan-Kettering Breast Center, would have comfy seersucker robes for the VIP(atient)s. (Some of whom probably bring in their own Frette robes anyway.)

Just a couple of weeks ago, the results of a promising study regarding Herceptin and Tykerb success rates among HER2+ Breast Ca patients.

Dr. Larry Norton at Sloan-Kettering, told us about it in my Dec 29th appointment with him. The study found that:

"Ian Krop, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the study, will report that the hybrid agent, called T-DM1, shrank tumors by 30 percent or more in 40 percent of women with confirmed HER2-positive cancers. Another 13 percent had stable disease for at least six months, for a total clinical benefit rate of approximately 53 percent. The median time before the disease progressed was 7.3 months, including both responders and non-responders. Patients received T-DM1 as long as it was effective and well-tolerated. A total of 110 women were enrolled in the study."

This is when I said to him, with bowed head, body bent over Norton's desk: "I don't want another port."

After talking to Michael Schwartz, my Miami Beach onco, he said that yes, if my tumor IS the same as the first time—he's 98 percent sure it is; while Norton wanted to see the slides, en route to him now—Herceptin plus Tykerb would be something for us to explore going forward. I wouldn't need a port and it would require an infusion once every three weeks. Says it won't fuck up my veins. I SO do not want to Amy Winehouse my arms.

I go for bloodwork next week in MIA, so depending on that and Norton's report on the slides, hopefully this is an option that will kick some more Cancer ass.

Of all the things Norton had told me—the freakiest of the lot was that "the nodes don't feel like typical Breast Cancer nodes." Shit, is anything about me typical? Let's hope so. After talking to Doc Schwartz on the phone Weds, I'm off the ledge.

"Look, you don't have another type of Cancer."


(Laughing) "I'm not jinxing you. The slides look almost exactly the same. I'm nearly positive [no jinx!] that it's the same type of Cancer."

Re the Xeloda schedule: "Yeah, I know that's how they're doing it at Sloan now. His [Norton's] opinion is that you get more of the drugs that way and that it's more effective."

Not to mention, hopefully minimizing the side effects. Additionally, since we were rushing Norton: "We have a plane to catch!" We think he may have misread the FISH test (comp pathology test of tumor) number, which was why he thought I may not be HER2 NU positive anymore. Original number was 5; Norton said it was now 2, which would be a neg/borderline HER2+. It's actually now 4.7—clearly HER2+.

"He must've read the ratio instead of the numbers [paraphrasing]. But it's definitely HER2+."

I finally exhaled. Again, the lesson here is second, third, fourth opinions never hurt. You may learn something good or bad, but speak up and get those second opinions ladies.

I promise a full report on NYC non-Cancer news; right now I'm busy lying in bed with Wally and his sissies. And heading to the Saks outlet with mom, natch.