I started the Rev/dex extended access protocol in January, 2006. When I began, my IgA was about 2300 mg/dL and my m-spike was 1.5 g/dL. By the end of April, my m-spikes (I usually have two) totalled 0.3 g/dL and my IgA was in the 500s. Since then, those values have gone up a small amount.
The Rev/dex EAP called for 25 mg of Revlimid for 21 days, then a week off. For the first 4 months, the dex was high dose. 40 mg/day for 4 days, then 4 days off. I took the last week of the cycle off from dex as well, so I had one drug free week every cycle. The high dose dex was difficult for me, due to the crash I experienced. My doctor suggested tapering the dose, which worked well.
Day 1: 40 mg
Day 2: 40 mg
Day 3: 40 mg
Day 4: 24 mg
Day 5: 12 mg
Day 6: 6 mg
Day 7: 2 mg
Days 8-14 off
Day 15 – 21: same as days 1-7
Days 23-29 off
Starting in May, I began standard dose dex, which is 40 mg a day on days 1-4. Just 4 days a month. My schedule for Revlimid is still the same.
I chose Revlimid because I think taking pills at home is easier than driving someplace for some kind of systemic chemo. It’s not without side effects for me though.
During the first few weeks of treatment in January I suffered from terrible headaches. I think I adjusted to the Revlimid and no longer had headaches after the fisrt 2 weeks. Throughout this treatment, I’ve been plagued with diarrhea. Once the high dose dex was over, I began to experience nausea too. I believe the dex was keeping it under control before.
For the nausea, the doctor prescribed Compazine and Ativan. I think the Ativan works better than Compazine. I also think I feel less queasy if I don’t let myself get hungry. It seems as though I need to eat constantly, but not too much at a time.
Towards the end of May, I began to experience a sore throat and post nasal drip. The PND is thick and has been impossible to get rid of. To be on the safe side, my PCP has prescribed 2 different antibiotics, neither of which had an impact. This makes us certain it’s not a bacterial sinus infection. I’ve learned the most un-ladylike skill of “hacking” up gunk from my throat. I haven’t found anything that just gets rid of the condition though. I’ve tried decongestants and use a saline nasal spray regularly.
The Rev/dex EAP worked well for me. Although my markers have gone up a bit, a trend has not yet been established, so I’ll stay on it until I decide to do something else. I wonder though, how much of its effectiveness was due to the high dose dex since my numbers went up when I switched to standard dose?