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What RA treatment are you on after cancer?

Cancer and RA treatment? I was on Enbrel for many years and my RA was under control. I developed oral cancer, had surgery, underwent radiation therapy and I had to go off Enbrel because of my diagnosis. The RA is now out of control and the docs won’t let me back on it yet. Is anyone in the same situation? I feel so alone in this.


Community Answers
  • Leetucci author
    4 months ago

    Hi Richard, thanks for responding about your wife’s situation. I keep telling myself that I need to give it time until the doctors agree on me restarting a biologic. It’s been 2 years since my last cancer treatment, but they’re still not ready for me to resume Enbrel. Meanwhile, I watch the permanent damage occurring day by day and grow desperate. I am taking methotrexate, Plaquenol, Sulfasalazine, Celebrex, and prednisone. All those meds and the RA is crushing me. On the other hand, I do thank God everyday for defeating cancer. Thanks for letting me cry on your shoulders.
    PS. I am just getting the hang of posting on your site, and I made an earlier post…probably in the wrong place. Sorry for the repetition.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Leetucci. Your concern about the delay in restarting a biologic is completely understandable. Have you and your doctors discussed JAK inhibitors, such as Xeljanx? I ask because, while these drugs have often been referred to as biologics, they are not. They do not contain any actual living material, amongst other differences, such as working inside cells, as opposed to targeting cells from the outside. In this article one of the Medical Affairs execs for the manufacturer actually writes about it not being a biologic and that this could mean different things for safety: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198242/. I know that the JAK inhibitors raise concerns about tumor suppression immunity that also accompany biologics, but don’t know if this also precludes their use for those recovering from cancer. Your medical team should be able to provide information and guidance. Wishing you the best. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Richard Faust moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Leetucci. So glad to hear that you were able to discuss the treatment option with your doctors. Whatever the decision, first and foremost I hope you stay safe and get the treatment that is best for you. Please feel free, if you like, to keep us posted on how you are doing. Best to you. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Leetucci author
    4 months ago

    Hi Richard, thank you so much for the information about Xeljanx. I didn’t realize it wasn’t in the same class as Enbrel. My rheumatologist has suggested it, but my oncologist isn’t on board with it yet. But you have given me hope for the future. I am so thankful for your reply.

  • Leetucci author
    4 months ago

    Thanks for responding about your wife’s situation. I keep telling myself I must wait until enough time has paste before I can restart a biologic, but when I see the permanent damage occurring I feel desparate. I am on methotrexate, Plaquenol, Sulfasalazine, Celebrex, and prednisone. All those meds and the RA is crushing me. I guess I just needed a shoulder to cry on. Thank you!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Leetucci. So sorry you are going through this. First, let me say that I hope the cancer treatment is going well. Second, for your safety, we cannot give medical advice over the internet, but I can tell you about an experience. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), had a skin cancer issue several years ago. She was lucky and it had just begun – there was actually some disagreement on whether it was precancerous or cancer. That said, she could not take a biologic. She was treated with methotrexate.

    The ability to take a biologic was further delayed due to an infection in an artificial knee that required it to be replaced and extensive antibiotic/anti-infection treatments. She was eventually cleared to take a biologic and has done so for several years with no incidents.

    Everyone’s situation is different, but there may be treatment options short of biologics available. In addition, it is possible to get through this and back to the full scope of treatment options. Hopefully your doctors can work together to provide you with the treatment options in the present. Wishing you the best and please know that his community is here for you. If you want, please feel free to keep us posted on how you are doing. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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