Mom Finished First 6 Rounds of Chemo - Need Advice on Maintenance

My mom finished her 6th round of chemo - Cisplatin/Alimta/Avastin - and results showed a 75% decrease in the main tumor and 50% in the lymph nodes in the chest area. There was a significant decrease after the first three treatments, less so after the second three. What does that usually mean?

The doctor is testing her for Tarceva and will couple that with Alimta and Avastin every three weeks for maintenance. Has anyone had similar treatments? What was your experience?

We're happy about the reduction but slightly disheartened that it wasn't that much after getting great news in April (after 3 treatments).

Edited June 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm

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I was dx in May 09 did six rounds carbo/avastin/altima - now on avastin/altima and just had chemo #20. My first cat after three rounds showed main tumor in left lung shrunk and the little ones in the right lung also - tumor in liver stayed the same. Three months later the cat didn't show that any shrunk but was glad that it did grow or spread. My last cat was in April and was the best results so far all tumors shrunk and even the liver did for the first time. Next scan this Friday. I've noticed by reading other posts the same, some times good - sometimes nothing - sometimes bad ???? it's all such a rollercoaster. I too go every three weeks and holding in - don't get up and alway have hope.

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My sister-in-law was diagnosed nscl stage iv adeno in 12/08. Stage iv because it went to other lung and some indication in nodes. Had six rounds of cisplatin/avastin/alimta and has been on maintenance avastin/alimta since May 09. Can't remember how much shrinkage she had after the initial chemo, but I think the primary tumor shrunk about 50% and everything else had some shrinkage. Most importantly she had no progression. (She had a couple of small tumors, some nodules, and some lymph node involvement initially.) Since she started maintenance in May 09 she's had slow but steady shrinkage. In May '10 she had a PET/CT scan. The original tumor is now less than 1/2 inch and only one node looked slightly inflamed. SUV values were 1.8 and 1.1. Nothing else showed up and they have decided to increase her treatments to 4 weeks.

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Thank you for these responses. I would love to keep in touch on your progress. How are the side effects different when you take away the cisplatin? How do you feel day to day. Is it similar but more mild? She's also gained about 10 pounds from the steroids and her hair has thinned a bit.

I am so grateful for this site and all of you who have shared your experiences. Thank you thank you thank you. Please stay in touch.

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My sister-in-law had just turned 49 when diagnosed and is now 50. She takes good care of herself -- eats mostly (but not all) vegetables, avoids sugar generally, tries to exercise when she can (diffcult for about a week after treatment) and takes mushroom and Vitamin D supplements. But she also has an occasional drink. She returned to work full time about 8 months after her diagnosis and has continued that since then. Her chemo is scheduled for Fridays and she returns to work the following Tuesday. Biggest side effects for avastin/alimta are major fatigue and nausea, but she feels better as time goes on. She tends to lose some weight around treatment time but gains it back once the nausea goes away. I don't think neuropathy is nearly as bad as it was when she on cisplatin. The alimta/avastin is much easier on her than the cisplatin/avastin/alimta was. By the way, I know her hair thinned during her original treatment. I'm not sure if that is still true with just the avastin/alimta combo. It's not noticeable to me. Finally, I wouldn't worry too much about the great shrinkage and then a lack of shrinkage your mother had with her initial treatment. The same thing happened with my sister-in-law. During the past 1 1/2 years she's had scans with no changes and others with minimal shrinkage. What we've learned is that no progression is good. Plus over time things have continued to shrink, just more slowly than with those initial couple of treatments.

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That's really good to know. We're trying to help her understand that she can live and fight this disease and live her life pretty normal. My mother is 64.

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