Saturday, March 11, 2006

General info

I found this explanation on the web and thought it was very easy to understand and very informative - so you get it too:

According to updated study results presented at the 47th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) produces good long-term results when used for initial treatment of chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also called chronic granulocytic leukemia, is a cancer that originates in the immune cells. It affects approximately 4,600 people annually in the U.S.
In the case of CML, large numbers of young immune cells do not mature, resulting in an excess accumulation of these cells. These leukemia cells then crowd the bone marrow and blood, suppressing formation and function of other blood cells normally present in these areas. In addition, the leukemia cells cannot perform their function in the body properly, leaving patients susceptible to infection.

Chronic myeloid leukemia begins with a chronic phase, during which few clinical problems, if any, occur. However, when left untreated, the chronic phase progresses into acute phases; these phases are characterized by fast-growing and aggressive cancer and are called the accelerated and blastic phases. Patients reaching these acute phases have a poor prognosis for long-term survival.

Historically, the only curative option for patients with CML was an allogeneic stem cell transplant. However, treatment-related mortality, as well as side effects, can be substantial in patients undergoing an allogeneic stem cell transplant; researchers have thus focused efforts on curative treatment options that are more easily tolerated. Philadelphia chromosome-positive CML refers to the majority of cases of CML in which a genetic abnormality, referred to as the Philadelphia chromosome, results in constantly activated growth of cancer cells. Gleevec is a biological agent that binds to and slows or stops the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells with this genetic mutation. In addition, Gleevec has activity in several biological pathways implicated in the development and/or expression of cancer. An advantage of Gleevec over interferon alfa, another drug used to treat CML, is that Gleevec produces few side effects .

To compare Gleevec to interferon as the initial therapy for patients with newly diagnosed chronic-phase CML, an international group of researchers conducted a clinical trial in which 553 patients were assigned to receive Gleevec, and 553 were assigned to receive interferon. After 42 months of follow-up, 75% of the Gleevec patients remained on treatment, compared to only 4% of the interferon patients. The updated study results focus on the Gleevec patients.
Among patients treated with Gleevec, overall survival at 54 months was 90%. Survival varied by Sokal risk score (a tool to estimate CML prognosis); rates of survival ranged from 81% among patients with high-risk CML to 94% among patients with low-risk CML. Response to Gleevec played an important role in survival: Among patients with a complete cytogenetic response to Gleevec (complete disappearance of abnormal cells), survival was excellent among all Sokal risk groups. Among those with a complete cytogenetic response, survival ranged from 90% among those with high-risk CML to 97% among those with low-risk CML.

These updated results confirm that patients with chronic-phase CML who respond to Gleevec have good long-term outcomes. Other work by these researchers suggests that of the roughly 40% of patients who have a significant response to Gleevec after one year, many will continue to show a response after four years.

And this is another really good link.........
Vaccine Shows Promise Against Residual Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (12/27/05)

A normal white blood count is between 4000 and 10 000. Stevens wbc was 179 000 when he was diagnosed. Here are the other blood numbers:
WBC: 179000 Critically High
Red cell count 3.9 Low
Hemoglobin 12.0 Low
Hematocrit 35.1 Low
MCV 90.0
MCH 30.7
MCHC 34.2
Platelet Count 284
MPV 7.40
RDW 17.1 High
Neut% 93.4 High
Eosin % 1.0
Baso % 0.0
Lymph % 3.9 Low
mono % 1.7 Low
Lymph count 7.0 High
Mono Count 3.1 High
Neut Count 167.9 High
EO count (auto) 1.9
Baso count 0.0
Segs 24
Bands 15
Blasts 4

Please dont ask me to explain what these mean individually - I have reaserched and discovered that I am not much wiser, except in the big picture - obviously I still have a way to go to get to understand the exact meaning of what these counts and percentages mean in relation to the others. What I do know is that it is critical not to look at one reading and freak, or not freak. You have to look at them all, let the names and numbers soak into your brain, then give it up and listen to the doctor. And then, after numerous cups of coffee and a good few sleeping pills and long hours of rest, dig some more and sometime the light will begin to shine and a vague understanding creeps in.

More to come......................