Combating Ovarian CancerRobert S. Fritzius
Installed 07 Apr 2007. Latest update 08 Sep 2018.
Myra Fritzius (2005)
In March 2006 my wife, Myra DaVault Fritzius (age 62), underwent surgery for what was thought to be colon cancer. Two masses on her colon (including two segments of her colon), and several involved lymph nodes were removed. During surgery it was discovered that her left ovary, which was in contact with one of the colon tumors, was also cancerous. The ovary was removed as well.
Note: For three months prior to the above mentioned surgery, Myra and her family physician had been trying, through a series of tests, to ascertain the cause of her recently acquired gastro-intestinal problems. Finally she was scheduled for an upper GI tract endoscopy on one day, with a CAT scan and colonoscopy on the following day. When she checked in for the colonoscopy, her doctor told her that when the procedure was over she wasn't to go home, because the CAT scan had revealed a grapefruit sized tumor located on the right side of the upper transverse part of her colon, and a tennis ball sized tumor, near her left ovary. ... She was instructed to check into the hospital for surgery, which had already been scheduled for the following morning. [Added 26 Apr 2007. Edited on 03 May 2007]
A year or so before Myra's hospitalization I had [ ] been pumped up on reports about the track record of the antioxidant BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) in combating lipid enveloped (fatty coated) viruses such as Influenza, Herpes Simplex, and the Epstein Barr Virus (which is said to cause stomach cancer). [Tweaked on 08 Sep 2018.]
Note: According to a 2007 clinical study done in Linxian, China, it was found that Epstein-Barr virus (which is linked to some lymphomas and head and neck cancers) is not associated with stomach cancer. Please see: Epstein-Barr Virus Not Associated with Gastric Cancer Reference: Koshiol J, Qiao Y-L, Mark S, et al., Epstein-Barr virus serology and gastric cancer incidence and survival. British Journal of Cancer. 2007; 97:1567-1569. [Added 05 Dec 2009.]
I asked Myra's oncologist, Dr. John P. Whitecar, Jr., Columbus Hematology & Oncology Clinic, Columbus, MS, if, based on the chance that a fatty coated virus (name unknown) was a causal factor in her cancer, would it be OK for us, in addition to whatever they were going to do chemotherapy-wise, to put her on a daily oral intake of BHT. (I had just given him a soapbox session about BHT versus fatty coated viruses.)
The doctor didn't give us his blessing or urge us not to do it. Rather, he said, "It won't hurt her."
So, what follows is not meant to imply that BHT was a factor in Myra's recovery, but I think that her remarkable progress (with BHT as a possible factor) merits a few remarks.
The day after Myra checked out of the hospital, with us still not knowing what kind of cancer she had (tissue samples had been forwarded to the Mayo Clinic for analysis), we started her on a regimen of 125 milligrams of BHT per day, which she took orally with meals containing animal fat. (Later on we reduced her daily intakes as noted on the graph below.)
Based on the tissue analysis, Myra's cancer turned out to be ovarian which had metasticized to the colon, and not the other way around. The final diagnosis was Stage IV ovarian cancer, so Taxol and Carboplatin were selected for her chemotherapy.
Three weeks after surgery Myra got her first of six chemotherapy infusions. These were given every three weeks.
Myra's CA 125 Decrease Curve
The following graph shows Myra's CA 125 levels and her average daily intakes of BHT. The 1512 reading at Week 0 corresponds to her first chemo session. [Added 12 Feb 2010.]
The graph shows one CA 125 reading done a week prior to the start of her chemo but I do not recall that test being done. (I had been asking for a CA 125 reading to be done two weeks earlier but was told that it made no sense to do so prior to starting chemo.) I am not confident that the test in question was done on Myra. [Added 22 Dec 2007. Ammended 12 Feb 2010.]
Dr. Whitecar has told at least two of his cancer treatment/research colleagues that, for Stage IV ovarian cancer, Myra's CA 125 curve decreased the fastest he's ever seen.
Myra finished her chemo series and checked back into the hospital in September 2006 to have her remaining ovary, uterus, and other ovarian-cancer prone tissues, removed. (These would have been removed during her original surgery if it had been known that her cancer was ovarian.) The surgeon who performed this second operation also looked for visual evidence of any further cancer. He said, "I saw places where cancer had been, but it's not there now."
This second surgery was especially tough on Myra in that she was physically at a low point from her recent chemo series and further so because the surgeon, in removing some adhesions that had occurred following the first surgery, perforated her colon. That necessitated a new short resection of her colon. Her digestive track took a long time to re-establish a revised operating procedure. (Actually, it hadn't attained full functionality before this surgery took place.) Thank God that Zelnorm (for irritable bowel syndrome) was still on the market. [Added 03 May 2007.]
Based on her excellent response to the chemotherapy, Myra's oncologist recommended that she do one year of what's called consolidation, in which she gets just Taxol once a month. She elected to do that, and things appear to be coming along fine. With half of these sessions completed, her CA 125 is currently hovering in the 6 - 8 range on that original scale. All of her CT scans since the first surgery have shown no evidence of cancer.
Back in the middle of the series of Taxol plus Carboplatin, one of Dr. Whitecar's nurse-practioners was trying to help me adjust my enthusiasm for the possible effects of BHT on cancer. He mentioned the necessity of conducting a double-blind study before anything definitive can be said about any new or modified kind of procedure. I totally agree.
Let the tests begin!
In 1988 a researcher in Czechoslovakia published the results of a study in which BHT, and it's kindred antioxidant, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), had been added to human and animal food. He found evidence that these chemicals led to a lowered incidence of cancer(1). He also established what he considered an acceptable daily intake rate of BHT or BHA. That rate was 0.6 mg of either chemical for each Kilogram of body mass. That rate corresponds to 0.27 mg for each pound of body weight.
During Myra's chemotherapy, she weighed about 200 pounds (90.7 Kg). So, for her, that acceptable daily rate (.27mg/lb x 200 lb) would have been 54 mg. Not knowing about the aforementioned study at the time, we gradually tapered Myra's daily intake of BHT to 80 mg. (A future entry will explain our reasons for the reduction.)[*] [These two paragraphs were added on 13 Apr 2007 and reworked on 15 Apr 2007.]
[*] I had been orally injesting 250 mg of BHT per day since October 2005, but Myra wouldn't touch the stuff, at least not orally. She did find it was great for rapidly clearing up cold sores, (mix a tiny bit in some butter and dab it on) but none of it got past her lips!
I was taking Plavix and baby asprin, per doctor's orders. (Best I can tell, both of these are also blood thinners.) About the time we started Myra on the BHT ("It won't hurt her.") I had become prone to bruising easily and in a number of cases, small dings on the back of my hands produced blood oozes. We figured that there was too much blood thinning going on, so we began reducing the amount of BHT that I was using. We'd share a 250 mg capsule. One day I'd get the big end and Myra would take the small end. Next day we'd switch. That way we each got an average of 125 mg per day. My ooziness stopped. Later on we reduced both of our intakes to a third of a capsule per day (80 mg).
Chemo typically causes a reduction in a person's blood platelets. For Myra the low point occured about a week after her chemo. At those times she tended to get minor nose bleeds. We opted to curtail her BHT intake during the low point timeframes. [Added 15 May 2007. Updated 10 Jan 2010.]
Here is an expanded graph showing a time-line of Myra's CA 125 readings. [Added 22 Dec 2007. Periodic updates.] Platelet counts have been added at the top of each CA 125 graph. These are not exhaustive.
Bob and Myra - Sion, Switzerland - 19 Sep 2009
We have both continued to take about 80 milligrams of BHT daily. We found, as advertized, that spending time at higher altitudes seems to help Myra's red blood cell count. [Added 13 Feb 2010]
In July 2010 we cut back our daily BHT intake to about 50-60 milligrams, each. This had to do with the blood thinning aspect of BHT. Myra began bruising too easily. Her bruising dropped off after the reduction.[Added 11 Aug 2010.]
On 11 Jan 2011 an enlarged lymph node (17mm dia) was found in Myra's lower left abdomen during a CT scan. In the past two to three months we have been falling behind on our BHT regimen. (Have been "dosing" about half to one third of the time.) In light of the enlarged lymph node, and on the possibility that BHT may beneficial, we have returned to our every-day (27 mg per 100 pounds body weight) intakes. [Added 28 Jan 2011.]
On 17 Feb 2011 Myra had emergency surgery to repair an incarcerated hernia. Her oncologist and family physician have long known that two abdominal hernias had developed along her 2006 surgeries incision line but she had been advised to refrain from surgery as long as neither hernia was was being "problematic." In early February, the lower (larger) hernia had become incarcerated, which led to the emergency surgical repair. (It did get her excused from jury duty!) [Added 05 Mar 2011.]
Somewhere along the way we had, again, cut back on our BHT intake. I estimate that we were averaging 2-5 "intakes" per month in 2012.
A CAT Scan done on 15 Aug 2012 showed that the enlarged "node" had grown to a one inch "mass." Her CA 125 reading that day was 49.35. Myra's oncologist scheduled her for an OB/GYN consult and "we" renewed our daily BHT "intakes." (We went back to the 80 mg per day that we had settled on during the 2006 chemo.)
Myra's gynecologic oncologist recommended a CT-scan - guided needle biopsy of the mass.
27 Aug 2012 CA 125 = 45.22, two days prior to the biopsy.
29 Aug 2012 - Needle biopsy. Biopsy was positive for ovarian cancer.
11 Sep 2012 - CA 125 = 61.2, just prior to the first session in her "new" chemo series. (Patient request)
The fact that the CA 125 reading increased by 16 units in a two week period (compared to the gradual increase over the past year) suggests, to me, that the biopsy may have produced what some sources call "needle track metastasis." (See the CA 125 Historical plot above.)
The chemo protocol this time (six sessions, spaced three weeks apart) includes the original Taxol and Carboplatin plus Avastin.
11 Sep 2012 - 27 Mar 2013