Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lifetime limits and EPOCH

One of the drugs in my chemotherapy regimen, doxorubicin, has a lifetime maximum dosage. (This is the H drug in the acronym; its trade name is Adriamycin, and the drug is also known as hydroxydaunorubicin.) According to Wikipedia, this maximum dosage is 550 mg/m2. Above that dosage, there is a high risk of permanent heart damage.

I think, after round eight this week, I will have received a cumulative dose of 510 mg/m2. I asked one of my oncology nurses how close I was to my lifetime limit; she wasn't sure, and asked the doctor. Apparently the maximum dosage is much higher when the drug is given by continuous infusion: most treatment regimens involve giving doxorubicin over just a few hours (2-4?), while in my regimen I receive it over 96 hours. He didn't give specific numbers, but said I was "far away" from any dangerous amount of doxorubicin.

I did some internet searches and came up with a couple of studies confirming what my oncologist said: one of adults, and one of children.

Hopefully, when my treatment is finished in another month or two, I won't have to deal with cancer anymore. But it's reassuring to know that, if I needed it, this particular drug is still an option for me.

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