Several weeks ago, I received an email from my sister about a friend of hers. This particular friend happens to be a male breast cancer survivor who despite his regular follow up check ups over the last three years has now been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Her inquiry to me was regarding any information that I might have about this and whether I might know of any research of which I might be aware that would be of help to him. Of course, as always is the case with me, I started on my latest mission to find any answers that I might be able to provide to them.
We are often not given the full information of what to expect when we have conversations with our oncologists because we don’t even know what questions to ask. Barbara Jacoby
As a non-medical person, it is hard for me to find out whether the treatment that he is currently undergoing is specific to men so I started by contacting the male breast cancer organizations with which I was familiar and the pharmaceutical groups with whom I have had interaction in the past to see what I could find. While I received responses from a number of people who were willing to help, I did not have the specifics about this person’s cancer history, etc. to be able to direct him in any way at that time. So I reached out to my sister to find out exactly the treatment that he was undergoing at this time and to find out what I could on my own.
It turns out that he is “taking IBRANCE (palociclib) in capsule form on a 21 day on, 7 day off cycle and FASLODEX (fulvestant) by injection. The treatment will be evaluated in about 2 months I believe and if unsatisfactory, he will be recommended for a clinical trial”. So I searched my posts and found two very recent articles in my “Clinical Trials” feature, one posted on June 3, 2019 titled “CDK4/6 Inhibitors Firmly Established in HR+ Breast Cancer, OS Data Awaited” and one posted on July 28, 2019 titled “CDK4/6 Inhibitors for Metastatic Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know”. And we decided at that point that we would see where things were when he receives his evaluation later this month or next month.
However, the information seemed so inadequate for a patient to know about what to expect on so many levels and we all know that we are often not given the full information of what to expect when we have conversations with our oncologists because we don’t even know what questions to ask. Therefore, I was so pleasantly appreciative when I received these two patient-friendly drug pages for details on Ibrance and Talzenna from Healthline.com on my feed this week that I couldn’t wait to share with all of you.
As Healthline.com has indicated in their sharing, they “have included all the important information patients are wondering about based on what questions they have been asking online. From comparisons to other drugs, drug interactions, price and side effects, this resource has it all”. I don’t know how these drugs and their interactions affect male cancer patients in comparison with female patients and I hope that you may never need this information for yourselves, but I am grateful that we have it for when/if we need it for anyone within this community and that, at the very least, it can serve as a basis for the doctor/patient conversation in shared treatment decision making.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.