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My wife was diagnosed with stage IVM1a lung cancer in March 2011. The cancer had spread to the pleura and was discovered through an MRI that found about 1 liter of fluid in her right chest cavity. A Pet scan showed multiple tumors on the right lung and cancer cells metabolic activity in the pleura. I talked t Dr.'s from Harvard, Yale, and Hopkins. I was told that she needed a miracle to survive.

I insisted that she take Tarceva while we were waiting for the mutation test results and for her to be able to receive chemo. The mutation test was not positive, so she was not a candidate for Tarceva, although she did get some minor benefit from it. It had some bad side effects, such as a rash, constipation, and nausea. After 10 to 14 days on Tarceva, she stopped and started chemo shortly thereafter.

The chemo consisted of cisplatin, avastin, and alimpta. Three weeks after the second chemo treatment (six weeks after chemo started) she had another PETscan. There were no active tumors and slight activity in the pleura. Her oncologist called it miraculous. She has finished her fourth chemo and will get another PETscan in 3 weeks. The Dr. expects that she will most likely be in remission.

While she has not been declared in remission, the results from the first two chemo treatments is miraculous. The difference in her treatment from most is the Tarceva first. Most people don't do this unless they get a positive mutation test result because insurance does not usually pay for it as a first treatment. Each pill is about $200 in the US so two weeks worth is $2800. Considering that my wife needed a miracle, I did not want to leave any stone unturned so the cost was worth it to me.

We don't know if the Tarceva made the difference or not because there is no research we could find on using Tarceva this way. I wanted to put this out for others to consider.

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It is great to hear that your wife is doing so well on treatment. Is she doing well as far as side effects as well?

There actually have been studies looking at Rx Tarceva first for patients without the EGFR mutation and the results have shown it can be harmful to the patient. The trial results continue to indicate that if a patient does not have the EGFR mutation, they get better results from starting with the traditional chemotherapy. But I can't guarantee that these studies disprove your individual experience. Perhaps just quickly sensitizing with Tarceva and switching has some benefit where staying on Tarceva until progression or scanning shows no benefit is somehow different.

We'll take those miracles as well. (Though we have quite a few Stage IV survivors around here, some with no evidence of disease. And some also surviving with far more extensive disease than your wife's original dx.) Please stay around and let us know how you are both doing.

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Hi there,

First welcome to our home here. None of us like why we are here, but we're glad it's here to help us out! I encourage you to stay and write more because #1 - it helps you, and #2 - it encourages us, and #3 - we love hearing about miracles.

Your story is very interesting. I'd encourage you to run this by our good doctors at http://www.cancergrace.org. They don't diagnose or recommend treatments, but would be interested in this for sure. We go on that site with the same "name" we use here so we all know who is posting at each site.

As for me? I love hearing about miracles. I believe in them completely. We have had so many amazing stories that defied the odds here, enough to know that the odds are at best good guesses.

I hope and pray this continues to be the case for your wife.

My best wishes to you both!

Judy in Michigan

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