At her monthly visit to Weston Park cancer hospital Janet was told the results of her recent scan – all looking very positive, as there were no new metastases, the main tumour has shrunk further from 43 to 39 mm diameter, and the liver metastases have also shrunk. There was no news about the bone secondaries in the pelvis, because this was not scanned this time. A new drug has been started – denosumab, a monoclonal antibody, targeted at the bone cells that “eat up” bone, the osteoclasts. The prime purpose of this is to protect the bones from the effects of their metastases, but in addition they seem to actually prevent the cancer’s growth, by their blocking effect.
Having been told she would also need to take calcium and vitamin D tablets, Janet was concerned that she might not be able to swallow large pills, but was delighted to be given “Calcichew”, which are both chewable and nice-tasting!
So after 6 months treatment, this cancer has been held in check and indeed has become smaller, thanks to a most amazing drug, Afatinib, now augmented by another modern drug, Denosumab (new to lung cancer but used in stage 4 breast cancer for some 6 years).
The side-effects listed for denosumab are daunting, but we were reassured by our cancer nurse specialist that they are actually quite rare.
So Janet continues to live almost pain-free, and feeling reasonably well, as we go from month to month hoping for continuing benefit fro these two drugs, but aware that the time will come when the disease reasserts itself. Maybe many months away yet.