Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer ALK+

Last updated: December 2022

In 2015 I began having some shortness of breath when I climbed the stairs to my apartment that I contributed to getting older and not being in shape. As the days went by the shortness of breath became worse and I developed a non productive persistent cough and my voice would intermittently become squeaky sounding. Due to the shortness of breath and the cough that was keeping me up at night I made an appointment with my Primary care physician who diagnosed me with asthma/bronchitis and started me on an antibiotic.

A week went by with no relief and I called the nurse who called in a cough syrup for me, the cough syrup didn't work so I made another appointment to see the doctor at this visit he changed the antibiotic and put me on an inhaler along with the cough syrup after a couple of weeks with no relief and the shortness of breath becoming worse I went back to the doctor who acted as if it was all in my head so I decided to get an appointment with a pulmonologist which I did.

He ordered a chest xray and had me do a pulmonary function test along with a six minute walk, the xray showed a large pleural effusion in the right lung. The pulmonologist then ordered a thoracentesis where the fluid was drained and sent to the pathologist who confirmed cancer cells in the fluid. I then had a ct scan that showed several tumors in the right lung.

I was sent to see a thoracic surgeon who performed a pleurodesis where they drain and seal the lung and a biopsy was also performed at that time. The biopsy came back positive for stage 4adenocarcinoma and tested positive for the ALK gene mutation.

I was started on an oral targeted therapy drug, Xalkori (crizotinib) that worked beautifully to stop the growth and spread of the cancer and I did very well on this drug, very few side effects, for 29 months at which time a PET scan showed slight progression and my oncologist switched me to another targeted therapy drug, Alecensa (alectinib).

I have been on it a little over a month now and although I haven't had my follow up scan yet to see how the new drug is working I feel great and my blood work has been good so far. I will go back in a few weeks for my first scan since beginning the new drug and am praying all is well.

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