Super ASK Patient: Phil Kauffman Finds Peace in a Pragmatic Approach to Lung Cancer Treatment

In November of 2014, Phil Kauffman went to his primary care doctor with what he thought was a broken rib. The doctor advised him to let it heal on its own—a standard approach for such maladies.

Phil, a retired engineering consultant who lives near San Diego, California, with his wife (their two daughters are grown), went home and waited for his rib to heal, but the pain stuck around for months.

In March of 2015 his doctor ordered an X-ray, but instead of a broken rib, it revealed suspicious spots in Phil’s lung. A CT scan found five lesions characteristic of lung cancer. His rib pain was caused by pleural effusion (liquid) in his right lung, which was extracted, and an examination of that liquid confirmed a diagnosis of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Phil remembers that during the first week after his diagnosis he was paralyzed with fear. His brother in law, a physician, helped him snap out of it, assuring him that his treatment options guaranteed a survival period of at least a few years or maybe more, and that cancer research was progressing at such a fast rate that the prospect of extending his lifetime beyond a couple of years was good. Continue reading…


Crizotinib Can Reduce Kidney Function and Testosterone Levels

A recent study suggests that crizotinib (Xalkori) can reduce kidney function. Lung cancer patients treated with Xalkori saw their kidney function decrease by 23.9% on average. Kidney function recovered when Xalkori was discontinued. However, as patients usually have to take Xalkori for months or years, these findings still warrant caution, especially in patients taking other medications that affect kidney function or with preexisting kidney damage. In an earlier study, investigators had found that Xalkori decreased testosterone levels in 84% of male patients. Because cancer drugs like Xalkori increasingly receive accelerated approval, not all of their side effects are known by the time they are approved. Doctors therefore need to carefully monitor their patients for possible adverse effects.