Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What does this mean?

Recently, when I asked my doctor about my allergic reaction to Genasense, I remarked that the drug company might want to do some additional tests to try to identify some characteristic in me that provoked this reaction. Surely, now that it’s happened once, this type of reaction will occur again. Is there more they can know about how to predict its likelihood? Is it as simple as the fact that there are no longer any active tumors in my body, no more Bcl-2 protein to attack?

She thought for a second, then related an experience with one of her earliest study subjects that refutes my last question. The patient has remained cancer-free the entire eight years since the study. The drug committee’s protocol at the time called for eight cycles; the patient’s cancer was gone after four. It was a new study then. My doctor and her patient were both nervous about stopping treatment, so they continued on for sixteen cycles with no adverse reaction to the drug.

So there you have it: one patient with a life-threatening allergic reaction, one non-cancerous patient tolerating the same drug for over two years. Is there any information in that? Is that even a meaningful sample? My experience may be so rare as to be of questionable value, just a red herring.

This may be the end of it. “Everyone’s allergic to something,” my doctor says. I only hope that my altered program continues to produce good results. But I’m trying real hard to keep anxiety out of the equation.

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