Monday, May 25, 2015

Dr. Wiestner on Novel Therapies for CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), Oral versus IV therapies, Idelalisib plus Chemo-immunotherapy Update and my Lingering Cold

Our very thin CLL Society team is busy preparing for the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) 2015 Annual meeting which starts at the end of this week in Chicago, but we still found time to bring three diverse and instructive new topics to our website for this week.

Today, Monday, May 25, 2015, we posted Dr. Adrian Wiestner's thoughtful and well-considered interview from ASH (American Society of Hematology) 2014 on what is known and unknown about novel therapies. You can find that here.

Expect more video interviews and commentaries from ASH 2014 over the next several weeks.

On Wednesday, the camera is turned on yours truly for my personal take on CLL topics of interest. We include the short video and an updated transcript on this week's topic of oral versus IV medications. I think you might be surprised at some of the issues and non-issues in what would seem at first glance to be should be a simple choice. I have posted extensively about the tragedies that were associated with potent oral medications before we knew about the risk of tumor lysis with ABT-199 now known as venetoclax or in the case of lenalidomide (Revlimid), where there is also the risk of tumor flare. These risks have largely been mitigated now with new dosing protocols. Please see this prior blog post for part of the story.

 This new section on the CLL Society website using monologues and text will roll out here.

And this will be only the first in a long series of instructional postings on the various CLL therapies.

On Friday, we will post an up to the minute review of and link to an important ASCO 2105 abstract about the latest data on combining idelalisib with chemo-immunotherapy. You will find it here on Friday.

Please let us know what you think, especially about my reading and the transcripts of my monologues. You can contact the CLL Society here or email directly, but the 1st method is preferable.

We are constantly working to respond to the unmet needs of the CLL community, so we listen carefully to what you write us and try to respond as best we can.

We don't have a big production budget and team or large institutional backing, but we keep going to offer up the most robust and recent, yet still accessible information with no gloss and no agenda other than to inform our community.

Because we believe that SMART PATIENTS GET SMART CARE™

Switching to a personal update, my wife and I are stilling struggling with a lingering upper respiratory infection aka a cold that my beautiful granddaughter shared when visiting from Chicago. No fever or cough for me. With the frequent use of a Neti pot, normal saline and steroid nasal sprays and a single shot of a decongestant (and no antibiotics), I have managed to control the symptoms and survive the pressure changes in the first of several air flights.  Both of us remain “under the weather” after a full week of symptoms, but we are slowly improving.

For most of my immune-competent patients, I would never recommend an antibiotic in such circumstances, but I am not most patients and either are any of my fellow CLLers. We are all immune comprised. Our immune systems are as dysfunctional as hyperactive adolescents who are asked to focus on a single boring multi-step math problem while the rest of the vibrant world pours on around them. Like those teenagers, my immunity’s focus is weak and easily diverted to the wrong target, having lead in the past to my nasty autoimmune problem of ITP.

Tomorrow I am at Ohio State for my three-month follow up on my ibrutinib trial.

Expecting another good lab report. Usually my neutrophils jump up when I am sick at all, even with a viral illness.

I wonder if Dr. Byrd will add an antibiotic and chide me for treating myself, always an ill-advised choice.

Personal confession: I worry about my admittedly relatively mild added illness. Worrying is already too easy to do with CLL, and even more so when we are sick. URIs can lead to chest infections and pneumonia is still the leading cause of mortality in CLL.

I will be much happier when this infection is gone.

I will be home one day this week, long enough to get my every 6 week dose of IVIG.

Late in the week, I will be Orlando for less than 24 hours to lecture on anemia and gout to some 400 primary care providers. Then I fly onto Chicago for the very busy ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Annual meeting.

Rest is not in the picture. But it is a good busy and I will be with friends everywhere I travel.

I may even get to see the little girl who gave me the cold in Chicago. If we are both well.


Stay strong

We are all in this together.

Brian Koffman

Volunteer Medical Director of the CLL Society

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