Monday, September 29, 2008


A year ago I graphed my CEA to show how that tumor marker tracked the growth and remission of my cancer. Now it's time for an update:

At the end of 2008 it looked like my cancer was headed toward oblivion as all of my tests were clear and I was feeling good (aside from the chemotherapy side effects). We continued Xeloda and Avastin for a few more months to be safe. My CEA came back up a bit but held steady within the normal range (below 5.0 ng/mL for a cancer survivor). As the cumulative side effects of Xeloda mounted we stopped that drug and planned to continue with just Avastin to keep any tumor growth in check.

A couple months later I had some pain and fevers that led to scans and a sigmoidoscopy which revealed a new tumor in my rectum and another nearby. So I went back on Xeloda, continued Avastin, and added oxaliplatin, an ingredient in the FOLFOX regimen which was my first round of chemotherapy in 2004-2005. The oxaliplatin made me feel awful, but for three months now my CEA has been rising.

So it appears that Xeloda, Avastin, and oxaliplatin have lost their effectiveness. Later this week I will get new PET/CT scan results and discuss plans with my doctor. The leading candidates to try next are mitomycin C (an older chemotherapy drug) and panitumumab (a newer relative of Erbitux, the drug that made me sick and ugly in 2006 but failed to stop my rising CEA at that time).