Monday, January 10, 2011

Showing Off

As I said in my last post, I can be obnoxious with Dr. R, showing him up with my knowledge of research in Follicular NHL, to the point where he is now apparently trying to "pre-empt me" by anticipating my questions. Actually, I haven't tried to show him up in a while -- I might think those thoughts, as I did last week, but I don't say them out loud anymore. No sense in penalizing him for not being as obsessed as I am with fNHL when he has about 50 other blood cancers to pay attention to.

So I'll show off to you instead.

About three weeks ago, Patient Power and Patients Against Lymphoma put out a couple of videos featuring Dr. Jane Winter of Northwestern University. Both deal with issues that I thought about bringing up to Dr. R, but bit my tongue instead.

The first deals with the Rituxan vs. Watch and Wait issue that I mentioned in the last post (and which I had talked about a few weeks ago, while the ASH conference was going on). The ASH presentation showed evidence that treating with Rituxan immediately, rather than watching and waiting, results in improvements in the time needed before the next treatment. Dr. Winter has an interesting take on this study, and calls its conclusions (though not its results) into question: she thinks too much Rituxan too early might lower its effectiveness when combined with chemo in treatments down the road. It might also have other effects on future treatments that we don't know about yet. So she thinks watching and waiting is still prefered for patients without symptoms. Interesting.

Dr. Winter is also featured in a second video that describes an upcoming clinical trial, one that I bit my tongue about in talking with Dr. R last week. The trial will use Bendamustine (Treanda), Bortizimab (Velcade), and Rituxan, comparing them to Bendamustine and Rituxan without the Velcade. As she says, this should be a very interesting trial, given the success that the three treatments have shown separately. Velcade is a very interesting treatment (it shuts off the mechanism that tells cancer cells to remove waste products, causing them to essentially kill themselves); it's recognized as the first generation of its type of treatment, with some improved versions already in development. I find this combination especially interesting because Bendamutine and Velcade have been two options that Dr. R had brought up recently as possibilities for me (with Bendamustine his current choice).

I've linked to Patient Power videos before -- they're a great organization. But I want to point out that the two videos linked here are co-produced by Patients Against Lymphoma, a patient advocacy group that has been an enormous help to me in the past in many ways. Their site is the first place a newly-diagnosed lymphoma patient should visit, in my humble opinion.

Speaking of humble -- I also want to make clear that I have great respect for Dr R, and I think he enjoys seeing me because I keep him on his toes. We have a kind of Larry Bird/Magic Johnson thing going.

(By the way, in that scenario, I'm Larry Bird...)

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