Monday, December 11, 2006

The Next Four Months - Part 2

At the end of the first induction phase of treatment, Kezia's hair finally began to fall out. She'd resisted so long! Such a shame – her hair was so beautiful, a crazy, wild mix of black mum, white dad. Losing your hair is a predictable side-effect of the chemotherapy. When chemotherapy stops, the hair will grow back – let's hope it grows back as wild and crazy!

She now started the second phase of treatment of Regimen C - what is called “Augmented BFM Consolidation”. First off, the rest of her hair fell out!

Augmented BFM Consolidation contrasts with the standard BFM Consolidation which is used in Regimen B (but not in Regimen A).

Two big differences – standard BFM doesn't use the drug Vincristine which is administered four times in the Augmented BFM or the Asparaginase administered twice. Secondly, there is a 2-3 week interval of administration of major chemotherapy drugs (Mecapturine – 6-MP, and Cytosine arabinoside – Ara-C) in the middle of the Augmented BFM phase.

Recently found an interesting
paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology comparing standard BFM and Augmented BFM treatments for Slow Early Responders (SERs). One of the results was that 90.7% of SERs with T-cell ALL had a 4 year Event Free Survival (EFS i.e. no relapse) rate.

This obviously gives rise to cautious optimism.
However, the end of our nightmare is so far down the line from here that I rarely think of a life without leukaemia – in fact, we will probably always live with it even with a four year EFS, what about a 10 year EFS?

During the entire treatment, regardless of regime, your child will receive an antibiotic, called Co-trimoxacole, at home on Saturdays and Sundays. As your child's white blood count is low and s/he has little protection against infection, this is thus a precautionary protection. It's euphemistically known as the “weekend medicine”.

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