Friday, October 13, 2006

Real men don't feel fear.

Its only been a few hours since I made the appointment for my first round of treatment, so I really don't know yet how I feel about it. It sounds kinda scary. From the common side effects section of the manufacturers website:

The most common adverse events were mild to moderate reactions during the first Rituxan administration: fever (53%), shaking chills (33%), weakness (26%), nausea (23%), and headache (19%). Hair loss was never reported.

Most of the time, side effects with Rituxan are mild to moderate. Usually, they are easy to treat. In most cases, side effects occur in the first 30 minutes to 2 hours after the treatment is started, and usually they go away before it is finished. Side effects are less common after the first treatment.

That doesn't sound too bad. However, from the uncommon side effects section:

Death related to Rituxan therapy has been rare. In general, most deaths have occurred after the first administration. Other rare causes of death have been kidney failure following rapid killing of tumor cells,

OK now, death is a pretty crappy side-effect, so we're not going to go there. According to Dr. B. the oncologist, the severity of a patients reaction to the drug is usually proportional to the extent and severity of the disease. Since I have a pretty mild cancer (is there such a thing?) I should experience minimal discomfort.

But of course, I'm a guy, and we guys don't dwell on such things. Instead we distract ourselves with nifty whiz-bang technology and neato-keen images like the one above. These are taken from a series of 200-odd stills that superpose the PET scan results onto the CAT scan images to allow for precise localization of the malignancies. These images are color-coded corresponding to the amount of glucose uptake, with bright yellow meaning the most uptake, ie the parts that are likely malignant. So those 9 frames up there are showing my malignant lymph node chains in juicy detail.

If all goes according to plan, my next scan in 6 months should show a reduction in the size of those tumors.

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