Trip to pup

Liz was looking at the calendar and asked why I had put “Trip to pup” on it. Perhaps she thought something doggy was going on, but one large hairy rottweiler/german shepherd cross is enough. So I explained that it wasn’t “Trip to pup” but “Tripto top up”. In other words my three monthly triptorelin injection.  I am glad I cleared that up.

Back in the days when I used to toddle up to London on a daily basis the company I worked for was trying to licence a whole range of inventions, many of which came from universities or research institutes, to companies who would take them into production. Some of these were drugs like cephalasporin antibiotics  and other clever polywallywhatsits. (I dealt with engineering inventions which were much easier to spell but nothing to do with the story I am trying to tell.)

One of the polywallywhatsits was abiraterone acetate. Apparently it looks like this:


So now that is clear I will let you know that not only did it get licensed but it actually made it into production and to being prescribed for prostate cancer patients. It is part of the STAMPEDE trial (regular readers with long memories may recall that I am taking part in the trial and am in Group A – the control group). Last week results from one of the trials were presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. As one headline shouted “Prostate cancer trial stuns researchers: ‘It’s a once in a career feeling“. I think that means that it is good news. The trial looked at abiraterone as an additional treatment in patients with prostate cancer who were about to start long-term hormone therapy. If I read the report right the median survival period increases by three years. If you want to read more there is BBC report and a Cancer Network Report amongst others.

Of course the name in Big Print used on the box is not abiraterone acetate. (Abiraterone acetate may appear somewhere in very small print or on the leaflet inside just as the name on the triptorelin box is Decapeptyl and you have to look very carefully to find a reference to triptorelin as the active ingredient.) I have an image of a small  office overlooking distant mountains where retirees from several well known dictionaries puff on their pipes, drink Earl Grey Tea and ponder over what to call each new drug whilst fending off the more lunatic suggestions of the marketing department (did you know that Austin Tatious was actually registered as a car name?).


But I digress. The name they (or someone else) came up with is Zytiga® which is manufactured by Janssen-Cilag. On their website I came across a possible entry for  my “Do they really mean that?” page in the Important safety information section.

They clearly state that Zytiga is used to treat men with castration-resistant prostate cancer and that  Zytiga is not for use in women or children. They then go on to say “before you take Zytiga, tell your healthcare provider if you have various problems or conditions or if you plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed“.  Now I know I did geography at school instead of biology but I am fairly certain that if I am not a woman and/or have prostate cancer I am unlikely to be breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant.  I guess the wording is the price of living in a litigious society.

Anyway, despite my carping, this is good news for some people. However it is used in conjunction with prednisone a close relation of our old friend prednisolone from whose clutches I escaped a few months ago.

And finally. Macmillan have  launched a new advertising campaign Life With Cancer ( #LifeWithCancer ). They have talked to lots of people living with and affected by cancer and a common thread came out: that whilst cancer is life-changing, it isn’t always life-defining. Or as Paul Clark explains in his blog the aim of the campaign is to highlight everyday “wins” where having cancer doesn’t matter, it’s a case of “still living my life” and not letting cancer win.

PS I think I have broken my record for the number of links in one post.

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