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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sandostatin - Miracle Cancer Drug?

According to nih.gov, Sandostatin was originally formulated to treat a condition called Acromegaly. This condition is caused when your body produces too much growth hormone. Your feet, hands and certain facial features will become enlarged and you may experience joint pain or other symptoms. In most cases, Sandostatin will be used because the condition cannot for some reason be treated by surgery, radiation or any other medication.

In addition, Sandostatin may be used to treat the symptoms (like diarrhea and flushing) of slow growing cancerous tumors or adenomas (benign tumors that originate in a gland). These can form in the pancreas or other organ and release substances into the intestinal tract, creating a host of other symptoms that can't otherwise be treated. Sandostatin works to control the release of these natural occurring substances, keeping the symptoms related to these conditions from becoming intolerable.

Side effects, ironically, include diarrhea, joint pain, stomach pain, puffy enlarged face, gas, nausea, headache, dizziness, heartburn, tiredness, nosebleed, yellow skin and eyes, irregular heartbeat, depression, difficulty breathing and swallowing, rash, itching and hair loss. Sound familiar? Yes, many of these are the very symptoms that Sandostatin is supposed to treat.

In some cases, the medicine does work to alleviate the symptoms associated with Acromegaly and slow growing tumors. Additionally, according to carcinoid.org, it was found that after time that Sandostatin actually controlled the conditions of Acromegaly and Carcinoid Tumors themselves, not just the symptoms.

The study published in 2009 and presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium of the American Society of Clinical Oncology stated that Sandostatin demonstrated anti-tumor benefit with a 66% decrease in the risk of disease progression, stabilizing the effect of metastatic growth and prolonging survival. That same report, however, found that in some cases, the body may produce antibodies that make it less effective. This is especially true when the patient's tumors are growing and the medication was not used in the early stages of the disease.

Dr.Woltering, Professor of Surgery and Neuroscience at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the Director of Surgery Research at Louisiana State University believes that based on his research the drug works better for tumor control in larger doses, but in regular doses only aids in symptom control. At higher doses, however, the cost can be crippling.

A 5 mg. dose runs about $785 and a 10 mg. dose peaks at about $1300. A 20 mg. dose can run anywhere from $2200 to $11,000 and a 30 mg. dose takes your breath away running from $2800 to $12,000. The variation of price is apparently attributed to the method of dispension. Some patients choose to purchase the medication at a pharmacy and then transport it to their doctor for dispension.

It's interesting to note that Sandostatin.com states that in an after market report, one adverse side effect is that the medication can increase alkaline phosphatase levels, a possible indication of bone or liver cancer.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been taking Sandostatin LAR 40mg. once every 3 weeks for 12 years to control the symptoms of Carcinoid tumers in my stomach. I have experienced neuropathy in my fee, lower legs and hands. I am starting to have some memory loss but I can't do with the benefits of the drug. Just wanted to share this with you all.

Suzanne Leavitt Lender said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and I wish you well in your treatments.