I know this question can't be answered easily - hence the catch 22 with personalized medicine, it is personal.
Nonetheless I find myself in a situation where I will be going in to see my onc in a few weeks. I am about 17 months into treatment on Gleevec 400mg. I hit milestones pretty quickly. I was diagnosed in 7/2010 and was MMR in 3/2011. I went PCR negative in 6/2011 and then jumped back into detectable PCR but still low level >3log reduction. From a treatment standpoint I feel I am doing well and the disease is under control. This PCR will be telling to see if it is undetectable again or if it stays at the low level (going up is always an option, but I'm not expecting that to happen).
My issue lies with side effects, they are not terrible, but for the most part I feel pretty lousy most days. I am 39 years old and I feel like I am well into my 60's. My muscles hurt and I am quite tired. I try to exercise to push through it, but it is getting harder. I feel I am getting weaker (I can not lift as much weight). This may be muscle or simply fatigue. I also have some trouble concentrating and getting motivated, which can impact my work, again I feel this is fatigue driven.
So I am considering changing drugs. I have spoken to my doctor about this before and she is open to the idea. I have held back because I feel like I am doing pretty well on Gleevec and I don't want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. I'm going to be furious with myself if I switch drugs and my counts tank or I wind up with a serious side effect from a more powerful drug. On the other hand, I want to have some of my old life back. I am tired of being tired and feeling like crap. I hear some people say that when they switch drugs it is like getting their life back, others not so much.
My doctor does not appear to be the type to mess with dosage too much. I don't think lowering my dosage of Gleevec is a good idea so that means moving to Sprycel, most likely 100mg or Tasigna 300mg bid.
So which one? That is the question. I lean towards Sprycel because it is one pill a day with no eating restrictions. But the side effects of Sprycel like pleural effusion and the pulmonary hypertension make me think twice. Tasigna is hard with the scheduling and I worry about skin issues since my skin has been sensitive to Gleevec and I have had some mild rash. I think I would trade some skin issue in place of the muscle pain and fatigue, but I don't want to look sick to my kids and I don't want to be in a situation where the skin issues become painful. I don't worry too much about the QT longation issue as that doesn't seem to really be prevalent. I think both drugs will keep my CML under control - obvioulsy I don't want to see my counts tank. So which drug would make the most sense to try with the intention of trying to get away from fatigue and muscle pain as much as I can?
I had read a study where they inferred that Tasigna seemed to have less side effects than Sprycel and since I have done well on Gleevec, it seems like Tasigna would probably work well for me. Not sure if Sprycel opens another door that could be better or worse. I wish there was a test that could tell how you would do on the drug before you take it. Not easy changing from one to the other.
Looking for input from all, but particularly those of you who have switched, especially anyone who has been on all three.
Thanks for the input.