Tag Archives: crizotinib resistance

A bit too close to the edge

I get my feet wet

I was discharged Sunday. Six pounds lighter and pretty darn worn out after my adventure, but happy to be home. I am back on the antibiotic levaquin, my persistent cough is finally abating and David has made the feeding and fattening of Linnea his pet project.

On Tuesday I returned to Boston for labs, a CT scan and to meet with Dr. Shaw. My ALT/AST are continuing to come down, but are still elevated. The LDK 378 will be held for another week and I will have labs on Friday and again on Monday to make sure the downward trend continues. Although I don’t have the radiologist’s report yet, Dr. Shaw reviewed the scans and feels that the activity in my lungs is at the very least stable, and at the very best, maybe even slightly improved.

All of the tests for outside causes have been coming back negative, as anticipated. When I said I was being test for Hepatitis, I should have specified viral Hepatitis. I have learned that hepatitis is a generic term for liver injury and inflammation. Drug induced hepatotoxicity (pronounced (hep′ă-tō-tok-sis′i-tē), and referring to the capacity of a drug or other agent to induce liver injury) is also referred to by the acronym DILI or drug induced liver injury. It is relatively uncommon, “DILI in the case of any single drug is thought to occur approximately in one per 10 000–100 000 treated patients.”  (from Pub Med Central). However, I wonder if that statistic is pertinent to clinical trials. Phase I of a trial, such as the one I am enrolled in, is to determine at what level a drug can safely be administered, and to do so through dose escalation. Although my ALT/AST were significantly elevated, the fact that my liver function was never compromised is an important distinction, not just for me but for the the trial itself. Severe DILI is defined as liver failure or death, two bullets I obviously dodged. However, it would seem that the careful monitoring I received was not misplaced, as evidenced by this article in Medscape about drug induced hepatitis.

Although I would like to go back on trial as soon as possible, I have some trepidation as well. There is the possibility that when the LDK 378 is reintroduced, the scenario may be repeated. Of course, the only way to find out is to try, and I assume I would be monitored even more closely at rechallenge (the opposite of dechallenge, or holding of the drug).  The FDA has published a Guideline For Industry that specifically addresses the issues surrounding DILI in a clinical trial setting, should you be interested in the specifics.

In the big picture, it is not so very important, but I’m sad to say that my drinking days might be over; I can’t even look at a glass of wine anymore. And I had such a talent for (the wine tasting) and sublime appreciation of. Oh well. I actually awakened in a bit of a cold sweat last night because I dreamt I’d had a cocktail.

So, in conclusion, I came out on the good end of a bad week. I am both highly encouraged and deeply anxious about where we go from here. And I will keep you posted.

YES! The results of the latest scan are in

I have been feeling well for the past week. My cough has resolved, my energy is up and the chills are gone. All good signs.

This past Monday I underwent the bronchoscopy. Quite uneventful aside from the nasty numbing stuff they squirt up your nose and down your throat prior to the exam. “This is going to feel like you’re drowning” counseled the attending nurse with no apparent irony. And it did.

On Thursday I was back in Boston for my chest CT scan. Although I’d been given a bye on barium for the past two years of the crizotinib trial, I am once again required to drink two ‘milkshakes’. As I’ve explained in some previous detail, I am oblivious to most of the discomforts involved in my day to day medical care. You don’t even want to know how many times I get jabbed with a needle. However, I have never liked putting something in my mouth that I don’t want there. I am, in fact, almost phobic in this regard. Oral contrast is tough for me, and hopefully I can once again talk upper management out of the necessity of such an (onerous) detail.

I had taken the bus in, and David picked me up at the hospital after my exam and we continued on to Randolph, where my oncologist, Dr. Alice Shaw, was being honored by the American Lung Association. Also in attendance were three of Alice’s other patients, including Chris and his wife Karen, pictured on the rather dramatic staircase of the venue. They have an adorable daughter who is just two, and Chris has done quite well on crizotinib. I wish him many more years of success.

Chris and Karen

Bright and early yesterday morning, Alice called and said she had reviewed the scans and that they looked really good, and as well the bronchoscopy was completely negative for any findings. Some hours later she forwarded the CT report, which frankly sounds even more positive than what I’d expected from her description. It reads:


Lines/tubes: None. Lungs and Airways: There is improved consolidation in the left upper lobe and lingula with residual ground-glass opacities, which had been previously chronic and progressive and are considerably improved from 8/31/2011, consistent with improvement in lymphangitic carcinomatosis.

There is a stable 3-mm nodule along the minor fissure. The surrounding smaller nodules have resolved. Pleura: There is a stable small left pleural effusion.

Heart and mediastinum: The thyroid gland is normal. No significant mediastinal, hilar or axillary lymphadenopathy is seen. The heart and pericardium are within normal limits. There is mild pericardial thickening, which appears more prominent compared to 8/31/2011.


History of non-small cell lung cancer status post left lower lobectomy. Improvement in lymphangitic tumor spread in the left lung. Stable indeterminate 3-mm nodule along the minor fissure. Slightly increased mild pericardial thickening.

I like how many times improved or a variation thereof is used in the first paragraph (three), and the addition of considerably is even better. Stable appears twice in the second paragraph. And in IMPRESSIONS, the key words are improvement, stable, and slightly increased. This is a very good, considerably improved, report. Yippee!

And now for some definitions of less than familiar terms:

lymphangitic carcinomatosis:  A condition in which cancer cells spread from the original (primary) tumor and invade lymph vessels (thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells through the body’s lymph system).

This is the definition from the National Cancer Institutes online dictionary. From Medscape reference we get this explanation:  The lungs are one of the most common targets for metastatic disease.  Most pulmonary metastases are nodular, but a significant minority is interstitial. Lymphangitic carcinomatosis (LC) refers to the diffuse infiltration and obstruction of pulmonary parenchymal lymphatic channels by tumor.

Interpretation? I believe it is simply another way to describe metastatic lung cancer.

I also looked up the significance off mild pericardial thickening (the pericardium is the membranous sac enclosing the heart), and will discuss it with Alice before I attempt to interpret this finding.

Bottom line; it is a very good report. I have to wonder if I really did have an infection that the latest course of levaquin vanquished. Whatever the underlying cause of my initial malaise as well as the less than stellar PET scan, it is now evident that the LDK378 is having it’s way with my cancer. I’m tripping over myself with gratitude, and well, excitement. The personal impact is obvious, but I’m focusing on the big picture as well; perhaps LDK378 will prove to be yet another viable treatment option for those who harbor an ALK mutation. That would be really be something.