March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, Multiple Myeloma is a relatively uncommon cancer, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 132 (0.76%). For those living with Multiple Myeloma, what does this diagnosis mean?
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy, not only for patients, but for their families as well. A cancer diagnosis can bring questions surrounding treatment, day-to-day changes and challenges, mental health and even mortality to the forefront. In addition to delivering state-of-the-art medical care, The Oncology Institute (TOI) believes in providing evidence-based information as part of our patient treatment plan.
Video: Dr. Amitabha Mazumder, Medical Director, Stem Cell Transplant and Transfusions at The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation (TOI) talks Multiple Myeloma, clinical trials, breakthroughs in medicine and how his research has helped improve the quality of life for patients.
What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma occurs when plasma cells multiply at a rapid rate in the bone marrow, blocking out healthy cells that help to fight infection. The cancerous cells then begin to produce an abnormal antibody called the ‘M protein’ which can trigger symptoms associated with Multiple Myeloma such as bone weakness, severe nerve damage, blood disorders and more.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for Multiple Myeloma in the United States for 2021 are:
- About 34,920 new cases will be diagnosed (19,320 in men and 15,600 in women).
- About 12,410 deaths are expected to occur (6,840 in men and 5,570 in women).
Signs & Symptoms
Multiple Myeloma affects the body in various ways, and while some patients experience little to no symptoms, others may have the following:
- Low Blood Count
- This can lead to disorders such as anemia, thrombocytopenia, and leukopenia.
- Bone Disintegration
- This type of cancer has profound affect on bone structure — raising calcium levels, causing bone weakness and breaking down bone content.
- Spinal Cord Compression
- When the bones weaken, this causes compression in the spine which also leads to severe back pain, numbness, and other nerve damage.
- Impaired Immune Function & Kidney Problems
- Due to decreased immunity, pneumonia is common in Multiple Myeloma patients.
- The proteins in Multiple Myeloma can cause kidney damage that may not show right away, but can cause long-term complications.
For an in-depth review of symptoms from the American Cancer Society, click here.
Disclaimer: Self-diagnosis is never advised, recommended, or certain. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, consult your primary care physician right away so they can order the proper screening and diagnostic tests for you.
Depending on the stage of the cancer, treatment options for Multiple Myeloma will vary. There are localized treatments, including surgery or radiation therapy, which are typically offered in the earlier stages of a diagnosis.
Systemic treatments are also available to patients facing a Multiple Myeloma diagnosis. These treatments may include drug therapy or stem cell transplant.
It’s important to consult your oncology team to go over all options available to you, as well as a best plan of care. To find a Oncology Institute location near you, click here.
Participating in Clinical Trials
Video: Tarek Dessouky, MD, MBA, MPH, Executive Director, Innovative Clinical Research Institute (ICRI) talks about the research arm of The Oncology Institute (TOI), addresses common misconceptions of joining a clinical trial, as well as the benefits of participating in a study.
What is a clinical trial?
A cancer treatment clinical trial is a study conducted with patients in order to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new therapy, diagnostic test, or prevention method. A clinical trial also helps determine new ways to use current therapies and drugs.
Clinical trials are conducted in four phases. The FDA requires clinical trials before any kind of medicine can be approved for the general population. Participating in a clinical trial is one way to get access to new, state-of-the-art cancer treatments.
The Innovative Clinical Research Institute (ICRI) at TOI
Innovative Clinical Research Institute (ICRI) is the research arm of The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation. They are a leader in the field of cancer clinical trials, a network of compassionate, experienced cancer care specialists.
ICRI was founded in 2011. Since then, they have been committed to advancing and innovating cancer treatment through cutting-edge clinical trials. Their goal is to discover safe and effective cancer treatments to improve the quality of life in cancer patients in the US and around the world.
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