Still under trail, a powerful drug for leukemia proved too powerful that it killed 90% of cancer in one shot, sending the patients into semi-conscious stage.
The new treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Gazyva, has been approved for use in Australia but not yet subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The treatment can delay the progression of their cancer by 26.7 months, said a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The drug Gazyva was administered to patients in combination with an older chemotherapy.
Edward McNabb, 70, who underwent the first trail in Australia, was first diagnosed with the slow growing cancer when he was 59 when kidney stones-related issue showed that he had an enlarged spleen and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. “The prognosis was if I had no treatment I had three years left, that was enough information for me to start the trial,” he said.
Mr McNabb knew he was getting the first dose. “My eyeballs were about to explode out of my skull, they stopped the infusion and threw me on the trolley and attached monitors,” he said. “I had massive pins and needles from the top of my head to my toes,” he recollected. “They said I’d had ten years of cancer knocked out of my body in one go,” he told News.Com.Au.
Professor Stephen Opat of Monash University Haematology department, who had 10 patients in the trial, said doctors have reduced the dosage in their later trials. “We weren’t expecting it to work so rapidly,” he noted.
“When you’ve got a lot of leukemia cells and they die that quickly it can make you very, very sick,” he said. Other side effects of the drug include increased risk of infections, lowering lowering white blood cell counts and it may reduce the ability of the blood to clot. Fever, cough, and muscle and joint pain are also some common reactions, he said.
In 2012, leukemia was diagnosed in 352,000 all over the world and caused 265,000 deaths. It is the most common type of cancer in children, with 75% of of them suffering from this particular cancer in which white blood cells die. But of all those diagnosed, 90 percent are adults.