Treatment Name: Temozolomide (Temodar®) + Radiation
Temozolomide (Temodar®) + Radiation is a Chemotherapy Regimen for Brain Cancer
What is Glioblastoma Brain Cancer?
A disease of the glial cells found in the brain. Glioblastoma is a very rare condition but is very aggressive. In most cases, the cause of glioblastoma is not known; however, glioblastoma can also arise from other low-grade brain cancers. Currently, there is no staging system for glioblastoma. Treatment plans for glioblastoma are commonly dependent on age and performance status.
How does temozolomide work?
Temozolomide is a chemotherapy drug designed to kill and slow growth of cancer cells in the brain known as glioblastoma.
Goals of therapy:
Temozolomide is taken to shrink tumors and make them more sensitive to radiation. Temozolomide with radiation is not commonly given with the goal of cure, but can decrease symptoms from glioblastoma brain cancer and prolong life.
- One or more capsules by mouth once daily for 42 days (six weeks) with brain radiation
- Maintenance dosing: one or more capsules by mouth once daily for Days 1 through 5 of a 28-day Cycle, for six cycles
Temozolomide is usually taken at home. Typical duration of therapy with radiation is six weeks.
Click here for common starting doses.
In clinical studies, the most commonly reported side effects with temozolomide with radiation are shown here:
Note: Nausea, vomiting, and constipation may be more common in patients older than 65 years.
On average, 5% of patients discontinued temozolomide due to unacceptable side effects.
How often is monitoring needed?
Labs (blood tests) may be checked before treatment and weekly during treatment. Labs often include: Complete Blood Count (CBC), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), plus any others your doctor may order.
A small sample of brain tissue may be analyzed to see how the MGMT gene is functioning. The MGMT gene repairs tumor cells. If the MGMT gene is turned off (a process known as methylation), the cancer cell cannot repair itself as effectively thus allowing chemotherapy such as temozolomide to kill the cancer cells more effectively. Patients with a MGMT gene methylation may have a better response to temozolomide than those without the gene abnormality.
How often is imaging needed?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain may be checked before treatment, 2 to 6 weeks after treatment, every 2 to 4 months during the first 2 to 3 years, then periodically until stable. Other imaging may include: computed tomography (CT) scans and bone scans.
How might blood test results/imaging affect treatment?
Depending upon the results, your doctor may advise to continue temozolomide as planned, or delay or switch therapy.
- Try taking your dose of temozolomide before bedtime to avoid experiencing nausea and vomiting. Make sure you always have medications to help treat nausea with you
- Temozolomide is available in several different strength capsules. You may have to take capsules containing different strengths of temozolomide at the same time to equal the total dose prescribed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are ever unsure of which capsules to take or how many to take
- A pharmacist should ALWAYS review your medication list to ensure that drug interactions are prevented or managed appropriately
- Clinical trials may exist for glioblastoma. Ask your doctor if any studies are currently enrolling in your area. If not, go to clinicaltrials.gov to search for other centers offering study medications
Patient Assistance & Co-payment Coverage
Patients under the age of 65 years, or those with private insurance plans:
If you have insurance and are looking for patient assistance or copay assistance for Temozolomide (Temodar®) + Radiation, we have provided links that may help.
Visit our Patient Assistance page and click the links to various patient assistance programs for help paying for Temozolomide (Temodar®) + Radiation. Depending upon your income, they may be able to help cover the cost of:
For Branded medications (may be available for generic medications too), check with the manufacturer to determine if a co-pay card is offered and if it could reduce your monthly copay.
- If you are uninsured, check with the manufacturer to determine if you are eligible to receive medication at no cost.
Medicare and Medicaid patients (Patients 65 years or older):
The clinic providing treatment will likely pre-authorize medications and immune therapies such as Temozolomide (Temodar®) + Radiation and are the best source to help you understand drug cost.
- Ask to speak with a patient assistance technician or financial counselor at the clinic or hospital administering this therapy.
What is Emotional Wellness?
Emotional wellness is having a positive outlook balanced with a realistic understanding of current life events. This requires both an awareness and acceptance of your emotions. It is with this knowledge that you can develop a plan to take the necessary actions to positively impact your life.
Emotional wellness uses an ongoing process to continually reflect on the stressors of life in a constructive manner to move forward and create happiness.
Because emotional wellness is deeply connected with physical, social, and spiritual wellness, pursuing it often becomes particularly difficult in times of major illness. Despite this difficulty, working toward emotional wellness has been connected to improved treatment outcomes and a higher likelihood of achieving goals of therapy.
Learn more about pursuing emotional wellness while receiving treatment with Temozolomide (Temodar®) + Radiation
What is Brain Cancer?
Also known as Central Nervous System Cancer, can be grouped into two main types: benign tumors or malignant (cancerous) tumors. Tumors can be of primary type which start in brain tissue, or secondary meaning that they have spread from somewhere else in the body. Symptoms depend upon what part of the brain the tumor is in and may include headache, vision problems, seizures, nausea & vomiting, or mental status changes. Diagnosis is made using imaging with a CT scan (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), then often followed by a surgical biopsy.
There is no standard staging system for primary type brain tumors. Brain tumors are assigned a "Grade" based upon the way the cancer cells look under a microscope. Grades include: I, II, III, and IV. Brain cancer is treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of all these. Grading systems are used by doctors to determine which treatments to offer. The effectiveness of the treatment may depend upon the Grade at diagnosis.
NOTE: Treatment Options listed below are not all-inclusive. Other treatments may be available. ChemoExperts provides drug information and does not recommend any one treatment over another. Only your Doctor can choose which therapy is appropriate for you.
If you are interested in reading the clinical trials results, please click on references below:
1. Stupp R, Mason WP, van den Bent MJ,et al. Radiotherapy plus Concomitant and Adjuvant Temozolomide for Glioblastoma. N Engl J Med. 2005;352:987-996.
2. Supplement to: Stupp R, Mason WP, van den Bent MJ, et al. Radiotherapy plus concomitant and adjuvant temozolomide for glioblastoma. N Engl J Med. 2005;352:987-996.
Common Starting Doses
Temozolomide 75mg/m2/dose, oral capsule(s) by mouth Once Daily + Radiation Therapy for 42 days (six weeks for induction)
Then, Temozolomide maintenance dose: 150 mg/m2/dose, oral capsule(s) Once Daily for Days 1,2,3,4,5 only, of a 28-day cycle for six cycles (six months)
What is a CBC?
A Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a frequently ordered blood test that tells clinicians the status of your: 1) White blood cell count, 2) Hemoglobin, and 3) Platelet count at the time the test was taken.
1) White blood cell count (WBC): is used to determine infection risk, or response to chemotherapy. Certain chemotherapy agents may harm our good infection-fighting cells. Sometimes chemotherapy may need to be delayed to allow these cells to recover.
2) Hemoglobin: is used to determine if someone is anemic. Anytime the hemoglobin is below 12 g/dL, the person is said to be anemic. Red blood cell transfusions, and sometimes iron can be given to restore the hemoglobin level, but anemia treatment should always aim at treating the underlying cause or condition.
3) Platelet count: is used to determine if the risk of bleeding is increased or if a platelet transfusion is required to prevent bleeding. Certain medications that increase bleeding risk, such as: aspirin, certain chemotherapy agents, and blood thinners, may need to be stopped temporarily until the platelet count is within a safe range.
What is a CMP?
A Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) is a frequently ordered blood test that tells clinicians the status of your: 1) Electrolytes & Acid/Base status, 2) Kidney function, 3) Liver function, 4) Blood sugar, and 5) Calcium at the time the test was taken. It is commonly used to monitor liver and kidney function when beginning new medications such as chemotherapy. A total of 14 tests are run simultaneously and are shown below.
Electrolytes & Acid/Base status:
1) Sodium, 2) Potassium, 3) Carbon dioxide, 4) Chloride
5) BUN (blood urea nitrogen), 6) Serum creatinine (Scr)
7) AST, 8) ALT, 9) Total bilirubin, 10) Alk Phos, 11) Albumin, 12) Total protein
13) Serum glucose
14) Serum calcium
What does Cure mean?The word “cure” means there are no cancer cells left in the body and cancer will never come back. Depending on the cancer type and stage, this may be the true goal of therapy. However, it is very difficult to prove all cancer cells are gone. Even though images, like X-rays and MRI’s, and blood tests may not show any signs of cancer, there can be a small amount of cancer cells still left in the body. Because of this, the word “remission” is used more often. This means there are no signs or symptoms of cancer. Patients in remission are followed closely for any signs of cancer returning. Sometimes, more chemotherapy may be given while in remission to prevent the cancer from coming back.
Doctors usually do not consider a patient “cured” until the chance of cancer returning is extremely low. If cancer does return, it usually happens within 5 years of having a remission. Because of this, doctors do not consider a patient cured unless the cancer has not come back within 5 years of remission. The five-year cutoff does not apply to all cancers.