Thalidomide Kills Cancer
Multiple myeloma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. Cancer of the bone marrow strikes nearly 14,000 Americans every year, and there’s no cure. However, there may be a way to slow down the disease using an old drug with a bad reputation.
“The doctor said, ‘It’s a cancer of the bone marrow. You have three to five years to live. Stop by my office on your way home.'” says Susie. One phone call changed Susie’s life forever. Her husband, Brian, had multiple myeloma. Cancer was eating away the bone in his spine.
“He was in excruciating pain. He couldn’t bend down to get dressed. He couldn’t put his socks on,” says Susie.
Doctor had no cure for Brian. He died four years after being diagnosed.
Today, doctors have much more to offer his patients with thalidomide. The sedative, used to treat morning sickness in women in the 60s, caused birth defects by blocking the growth of blood vessels to the arms and legs. Dr. decided that could be a good thing in adults with myeloma — block blood vessel growth into tumors and you essentially starve them.
If you stick with a lower dose that allows patients to function pretty well day to day, the disease will slowly go into remission, so you get the response that you want.
Rita has multiple myeloma. Eight months on the drug and her cancer stopped growing. The pain is gone. “I’m doing well and on the way to maybe getting a recovery. I hope so,” says Rita.
Thalidomide reduced tumor growth by 50 percent in one third of patients testing it. Thalidomide is also being tested for its affect on breast cancer, skin cancer, lymphoma and pediatric bone tumors.
Women must have a physician’s written report of a negative pregnancy test done within 24 hours of starting thalidomide. They also have to go through weekly pregnancy testing during the first month of use and monthly tests from then on for women with regular cycles and every two weeks for women with irregular cycles. Women must use two reliable forms of contraception simultaneously while taking the drug.