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  • David Foster (shown here with his friend Gracie) is National Strategic Advisor for Morris Communications, and has been a leader within the independent magazine community for years. In April 2005, Dave was diagnosed with Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma, Stage 4, the sixth deadliest cancer, behind lung, liver, and breast. In emails to his ‘wellness group’ of friends and colleagues, Dave began chronicling his battle with the disease. In this blog, Dave Foster continues to “kick cancer’s arse”, sharing his story with a wider audience.

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October 19, 2007



I agree with you in part, and disagree in part. Your entry today seems to talk mostly about phase I trials. In those, the patient is truly the guinea pig. But there are phase II and III trials where the drug has been proven and docs are now trying to see results in a broader group. There are many folks on some of the RCC message boards (you post on some of those) who have been taking Sutent as part of a trial, and who report elimination or stabilization of those tumors for a few years so far.

My family member has chromophobe RCC with some limited mets (though any mets are too many) and was offered a phase I trial of torisel and a chemo drug. I was there when they sent the clinical nurse to try to sell her on it. There was no way she was going to do that when she has a good prognosis.

She did, however, seek out and agree to do a phase I/II trial of sutent with stereotactic radiation to her spine mets (just what they used on your brain). Why? (1) No one has ever studied the combination before though some data suggested combining the radiation with other drugs like nexavar was very helpful; (2) both treatments are proven and approved alone; (3) the docs thought it sounded like a good idea even though it was held at a different hospital; (4) given the location of her mets she would likely need radiation eventually anyway; and (5) (this is not a small point) the Sutent was FREE!

Now my family member is not poor, and is now on a good medicare plan, but she was still looking at a $3,500 copay for the first cycle, and several hundred for subsequent cycles, and that was just for this year alone.

As you noted in some of your prior entries, some are not so lucky, and to pay for these drugs is a major struggle. So a study offering free drugs is very attractive.

Great, thought-provoking entry today Dave!

Ha David. I like that you don't know squat about trials and Joe has never been on one. However at one point before sutent was approved they were going to send him on one (sutent got approved and the trial was stopped). I asked about the treatment and our oncologist said that one group would get some sort of drug and the other would get the new drug. I asked about the placebo and she said that was not true. She said that they have to treat you but they don't have to give you the new drug. So I, like you, say "correct me if I am wrong".

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