Thursday, June 4, 2009

My VAD treatment for myeloma

My initial treatment for myeloma in 2001 was VAD (Vincristine, Adriamycin, and Dexamethasone) and a bisphosphonate (pamidronate, Aredia). That was the conventional treatment for myeloma in New Zealand at that time especially if one was to continue on to a stem cell transplant. I had four cycles of VAD each over 28 days.
Vincristine is a chemotherapy drug used in combination with other drugs to treat myeloma by blocking cell growth by stopping cell division.
I was given 0.4mg of Vincristine intravenously on days 1 to 4 of each VAD 28 day cycle.
ADRIAMYCIN: Now called Doxorubicin
Adriamycin is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat myeloma by bonding to the cancer cells DNA blocking an important enzyme and stopping divide and grow.
I was given 16mg of Adriamycin intravenously on days 1 to 4 of each VAD 28 day cycle.
Dexamethasone is a synthetic adrenocartia steroid. When used in the treatment of myeloma it can trigger the destruction of myeloma cells. I was given Dexamethasone for VAD cycles one and three on days 2 to 5, 9 to 12, and 17 to 20, taken by tablet (40mg).
Dexamethasone side effects experienced by me were sleep disturbance, verbal aggression and mood swings, all to be explained in a future posting.
BISPHOSPHONATE: Pamidronate, Aredia.
In myeloma bisphosphonate can delay and reduce the number of skeletal events and reduce bone pain. I was given 90mg of Aredia intravenously over two hours once a month. In the evening of the first infusion I suffered from a drop in body temperature, cold flushes and flue like symptoms. This continued for four days though reducing in severity daily. On subsequent monthly infusions I had no side effects. When discussing this with the hospital I was told this was a rare reaction and the remedy would have been to increase the infusion time to three hours.

In addition I was given other medication to overcome the side effects of VAD.
Allopurin: A drug used to prevent high levels of uric acid in the body, including the increase caused by certain cancer medications. High levels of uric acid may cause gout attacks, kidney stones or renal failure. 30mg tablets each morning.
Bactrim: Used as an antibiotic. 1 tablet each morning and afternoon.
Maxolon: Used for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Up to four tablets per day.
Zontac: Reduces the amount of acid in my stomach. Heals and prevents ulcers. 1 tablet morning and afternoon.
Tempazepan: A sleeping pill available to assist any anticipated Dexamethasone induced or any other sleep problems.
Chlorhexidine: mouthwash to be used morning and night to prevent mucositis; the inflammation of the lining of the mouth and throat which often occurs after high dose chemotherapy. From chemo day one I maintained a rigid commitment to following the recommended teeth and mouth wash process even when I did not feel like it. No mouth issues arose.
Nilstat: an oral suspension advanced mouthwash to be used only if any mouth issues deteriorate. It was never used.
Coloxyl laxative. 2 per day if required to overcome constipation. It was used occasionally.

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