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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Afinitor – A Blessing in Disguise

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Afinitor is the commonly used name for the drug Everolimus which is there to cure specific types of abnormal cell growths called tumors. They can turn out to be cancerous, precancerous, or non-cancerous in nature. Afinitor is classified as an mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) kinase inhibitor, which directly aims for the cancer cells. You can consume this drug in 2 forms:

  • Afinitor Tablet, which you can swallow as a whole
  • Afinitor Disperz, which you can take after dissolving it in water

The New Wonder Drug?

Afinitor tablets are useful in treating:

  • Breast Cancer: Used for treating breast cancer (advanced stage) combined with another anticancer drug called exemestane (Aromasin). It is for postmenopausal women after the ineffectiveness of anastrozole or letrozole therapy
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors (NET): Used for treating advanced-stage neuroendocrine tumors originating from the pancreas, lungs, or the stomach
  • Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC): Used for treating advanced renal cell carcinoma or kidney failure after trying drugs like sunitinib (Sutent) or sorafenib (Nexavar)

Afinitor Disperz can be used to treat:

  • Focal onset seizures: Used to treat partial seizures in those with tuberous sclerosis who have been taking anti-seizure drugs.
  • Subependymal giant cell astrocytoma (SEGA): Used to treat SEGA, which is a form of a benign (not cancerous) brain tumor in those with tuberous sclerosis

Disease-Specific Dosages 

Afinitor comes in different dosage strengths of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 10 mg. Afinitor Disperz dosage has a dosage strength varying from 2 mg to 3 mg to 5 mg. Dosages for various diseases are listed below:

  • Breast cancer – The dosage starts from 10 mg daily. However, if the side effects become prolonged or severe, and the condition declines, the dosage may increase.
  • Kidney cancer – While the dosage starts from 10 mg per day, it may increase after reviewing the patient’s conditions.
  • Neuroendocrine tumors (NET) – Same as kidney or breast cancer, the dosage begins from 10 mg. It may increase to a higher dosage if the side effects become critical.
  • Subependymal giant cell astrocytoma (SEGA) – It is a form of non-cancerous brain tumor, and the dosage depends on the patient’s body surface area (BSA). Usually, the dosage starts from 4.5 mg per square meter of the BSA. According to the side effects and the overall condition, the dosage may vary. 
  • Partial seizures – The dosage is given as per the patient’s BSA.

Side Effects – A Blessing With A Curse?

If the drug can perform wonders, then it sure can cause many mild to severe side problems due to their use. In such cases, it is best to consult your medical practitioner or chemist. They will prescribe you the best ways to deal with these troublesome side-effects. 

Some of the more common side effects include:

  • Mouth sores (stomatitis)
  • Higher probabilities of infections
  • Body rashes
  • Swelling in body parts like hands and legs
  • Abdominal pains and diarrhea
  • Puking and nauseous
  • Body weakness and mild headaches
  • Weight loss and appetite loss
  • Blood test abnormalities

Some of the more severe side effects include:

  • Kidney failures
  • Pneumonitis
  • Skin swellings and itching
  • Allergic reactions
  • Myelosuppression

How Does It Work?

Everolimus is a form of targeted therapy. Unlike a traditional cancer treatment which focusses on killing rapidly dividing cancerous cells, targeted therapy identifies other features of the cancer cells. Since healthy cells can also divide at a fast pace, other treatments can lead to severe side effects. Based on differences between cancer and healthy cells, targeted therapy aims for only cancer cells. The targeted therapies have the following broad categories:

  1. The first type of target therapy focusses on the cancer cell’s internal components and functions. It eliminates the cancerous cells by affecting the internal functionality of the cancer cell through permeating molecules.
  2. The second form of targeted therapy focuses on disturbing the receptors on the outside of the cell. It includes antiangiogenesis inhibitors that attack the blood vessels supplying oxygen to the cells, preventing them from increasing.

Everolimus, which is an mTOR inhibitor, regulates cancer cell multiplication by blocking genetic translation. It reduces some cell growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These are useful in developing new blood vessels, and by targeting them, cancerous cells get eliminated.

Healthy Precautions and Self-Care Tips

  • Inform your doctor about any other medications that you might be taking, including vitamin supplements and herbal products.
  • Avoid the use of aspirin or related medicines unless specified.
  • Avoid any form of vaccination or immunization without a green signal.
  • Since Everolimus is a pregnancy Category C medication, keep your doctor informed if you are expecting. Conceiving a child is out of the question as well. Contraceptive methods are highly advisable. Breastfeeding is also not recommended.
  • Maintain personal hygiene and avoid people with infections like cold and cough.
  • Drink plenty of water or other liquids unless instructed otherwise.
  • Use a soft toothbrush and rinse your mouth properly after every meal. Rinse with one teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water.
  • Avoid playing sports, which may cause injuries or infections through them.
  • Get enough rest and maintain a balanced diet. 
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