How biomarker testing helped shape one man’s lung cancer journey
(BPT) - Despite being a healthy and active legal consultant and father of three, A.J. Patel had been experiencing persistent respiratory problems for some time.
"I had to constantly clear my throat when I spoke," said A.J., "And I started noticing a wheezing sound in my breathing."
Because he was otherwise healthy, his doctors did not seem concerned when he told them about his seemingly minor symptoms. However, this changed when A.J. started coughing up blood.
At that point, A.J. insisted on getting an X-ray which showed a small nodule on his lung. But again, his doctor did not sound the alarm and assured A.J. he had nothing to be worried about.
As his symptoms persisted for another month, A.J. went back to his doctor for further testing. He had a CT scan and then a biopsy which confirmed there were large cancerous tumors on his left lower lung. Following these results, an MRI of his brain revealed his cancer had metastasized, or spread, throughout his body.
"After my initial diagnosis, an oncologist had immediately set up chemotherapy," said A.J. "But I needed to step back and take a breath and do my own research."
Through his research, A.J. found support in the lung cancer community, including getting information about biomarker testing.
"When I received my stage 4 metastatic cancer result, I didn’t fully understand the [biomarker] testing process," explained A.J.
His research spurred further discussions with his doctor about biomarker testing and possible treatments.
“Through a mentor and support groups, I started to realize there were potential treatment options beyond chemotherapy, radiation and surgery,” said A.J. “After talking to my doctor, I learned about the multitude of tests that could be conducted and potentially open the door to additional treatment options."
His doctor ordered a test for genetic mutations called biomarkers. When the results came back, the test revealed that A.J. had ROS1-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a rare type of cancer. The important news was that for this type of cancer, there were other treatment options available.
The vital information gained from the biomarker test helped A.J.'s doctor decide to prescribe XALKORI® (crizotinib).
A.J. believes that hearing about his journey during his lung cancer diagnosis is important for other patients, so he became a lung cancer advocate and mentor. While he continues his treatment, A.J. likes to say he is living each day to its fullest, spending time with his family and continuing his full-time legal career.
To learn more about ROS1-positive NSCLC and XALKORI®, visit XALKORI.com
XALKORI is a prescription medicine used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body and is caused by a defect in either a gene called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) or a gene called ROS1. It is not known if XALKORI is safe and effective in children.
Important Safety Information
XALKORI® (crizotinib) may cause serious side effects, some of which may include:
Liver problems—XALKORI may cause life-threatening liver injury that may lead to death. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your liver every 2 weeks during the first 2 months of treatment with XALKORI, then once a month. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following new or worsening symptoms:
Lung problems (pneumonitis)—XALKORI may cause life-threatening lung problems that may lead to death. Symptoms may be similar to those symptoms from lung cancer. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new or worsening symptoms, including:
- trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- cough with or without mucous
Heart problems—XALKORI may cause very slow, very fast, or abnormal heartbeats. Your healthcare provider may check your pulse rate and blood pressure during treatment with XALKORI. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you feel dizzy or faint or have abnormal heartbeats. Tell your healthcare provider if you take any heart or blood pressure medicines.
Severe vision problems—Vision problems are common with XALKORI. These problems usually happen within 1 week of starting treatment with XALKORI. Vision problems with XALKORI can be severe and may cause partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes. Your healthcare provider may hold or stop XALKORI and refer you to an eye specialist if you develop any vision problems during treatment with XALKORI. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new vision problems, loss of vision or any change in vision, including:
Before you take XALKORI, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions including if you:
- have liver or kidney problems
- have lung problems
- have heart problems, including a condition called long QT syndrome
- have vision or eye problems
- Are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant. XALKORI can harm the unborn baby
- Females who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment with XALKORI and for at least 45 days after the final dose of XALKORI.
- Your healthcare provider will check to see if you are pregnant before starting treatment with XALKORI
- Males who have female partners who can become pregnant should use condoms during treatment with XALKORI and for at least 90 days after the final dose of XALKORI.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control methods that may be right for you.
- If you or your partner becomes pregnant, tell your healthcare provider right away.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if XALKORI passes into the breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with XALKORI and for 45 days after the final dose. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed the baby during this time
Tell your healthcare provider about the medicines you take, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Do not drink grapefruit juice, eat grapefruit or take supplements containing grapefruit extract during treatment with XALKORI. It may increase the amount of XALKORI in your blood to a harmful level.
The most common side effects of XALKORI include:
- vision problems
- nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- swelling of your hands, feet, face, and eyes
- increased liver function blood test results
- decreased appetite
- upper respiratory infection
- feeling of numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
XALKORI can cause changes in vision, dizziness, and tiredness. Do not drive or operate machinery if you have any of these symptoms.
Avoid spending prolonged time in sunlight. XALKORI can make your skin sensitive to the sun (photosensitivity), and you may burn more easily. You should use sunscreen and wear protective clothing that covers your skin to help protect against sunburn if you have to be in the sunlight during treatment with XALKORI.
XALKORI may cause fertility problems in females and males, which may affect the ability to have children. These are not all of the possible side effects of XALKORI.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.