BY GARY PETERSEN I HAVE A MYELOMA DREAM! That all myeloma patients are screened and found before any end organ damage, that all high risk patients are found at MGUS or smoldering and treated and cured before the clones become untreatable, that all low risk smoldering patients are followed treated and cured before CRAB symptoms or end organ damage can develop. I HAVE THIS MYELOMA DREAM! We are all excited about the myeloma moonshot, however it is the moon landing which we all want to see. What is the myeloma moon landing? It is my MYELOMA DREAM and it takes me back to a Cure Talk by Dr. Irene Ghobrial of Dana Farber Cancer Institute in February of 2015. In it she states:
We specialists are coming to the conclusion that screening, early diagnosis, and early treatment is the future of myeloma treatment. There are a number of steps that must be taken to reach this goal. These steps are as follows: Step 1 - We need to determine which MGUS and smoldering patients will progress to active myeloma and are candidates for early treatment. Genetic testing may be the key to this step. For example just 10% of smoldering patients will progress to full blown myeloma, whereas 50% of high risk smoldering patients will progress. Step 2 - We need to prove early treatment will result in improved Overall Survival. Step 3 - We have simple blood tests for the measurement of M protein and a more sophisticated test called the light chain test. Both of these tests together cost less than a mammogram or colonoscopy. However, these tests are not conducted during a normal physical and blood panel.
Where are we now? An emphasis on high risk smoldering myeloma seems to be the answer to the first step. It has been found that high risk disease is by far the most challenging of all forms of myeloma. Life expectancy for high risk myeloma is just 2 years vs 5 years for all myeloma. The end game for most myeloma patients is when the patient has high risk disease to begin with, or when standard risk disease eventually morphs into high risk myeloma. Therefore, it is felt if you can cure high risk myeloma you can cure all myeloma. Recently it has been shown that high risk smoldering myeloma has far fewer clones than high risk active myeloma, and as a result may be more likely to be treatable the earlier it can be identified. We will be discussing the last two steps in a three part series of Cure Talks.
This is a great opportunity to see the future of multiple myeloma unfold before your eyes. With the success of this initiative, myeloma may one day be as treatable as the early stages of breast cancer. The devastation and agony of the CRAB symptoms may become a fading memory. We can only dream! Good luck and may God Bless your Cancer Journey. For more information on multiple myeloma survival rates and treatments CLICK HERE and you can follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/grpetersen1
about the author
Gary is a myeloma survivor and patient advocate. His work centers around helping patients live longer by helping them to find facilities who are beating the average survival statistics. You can find Gary's site at www.myelomasurvival.com and follow him on Twitter at @grpetersen1