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I’m a cancer patient. The FDA’s ‘wait and see’ approach is not helping.

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13.02.2019

Olivia Egge is a high school senior in Arlington.

“Now we sit and wait to see if the cancer comes back,” my doctor said as she unhooked the hanging bag of chemotherapy. That moment marked the end of my nine months of treatment for osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer disproportionately afflicting children and young adults like me.

There have been no therapeutic advances in treating osteosarcoma in the United States since the advent of chemotherapy nearly 40 years ago. The cancer affects fewer than 1,000 Americans annually, and it has a five-year survival rate of 60 to 80 percent if the cancer remains localized, according to the American Cancer Society; if the cancer has spread, the survival rate drops to 15 to 30 percent.

The prospect of waiting for a verdict on the cancer’s possible return was frustrating, but I knew that I was more fortunate than most Americans with osteosarcoma.

After I received the diagnosis last year, my family searched for treatments beyond chemotherapy that might help. Doctors in the United States don’t generally discuss drugs that haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so we weren’t told about an immunotherapy treatment for osteosarcoma that has been in use in the European Union for more than nine years. The chemical name of the treatment is muramyl........

© Washington Post