The multiple myeloma is a malignant disease from bone marrow incurable until today, but treatable. Being a disease considered rare by the Ministry of Health in Argentina, it represents the 1-2% of all the cancers, according to him Global Cancer Observatory, and the 10% of blood cancers, according to Rajkumar SV. Multiple Myeloma. What’s more, is the second most frequent, below Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in the United States.
It is called “multiple” because there are often multiple patches or areas on the bone marrow compromised by the infiltration of clonal plasma cells (malignant), affecting the places where the bone marrow it is active in an adult. The most common sites include the spinal bones, skull, pelvis, rib cage, and areas around the shoulders and hips.
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Being the plasma cell one of the essential components of immune system, multiple myeloma strongly impacts the ability to produce antibodies that help the body to attack and destroy germs and bacteria.
Advances in Research in Multiple Myeloma
Over the years, scientific advances made it possible to offer better alternatives for treatment to the patients. In this sense, the main challenge in dealing with the disease continues to be to develop treatments that allow enlarge the life, prolonging the time between relapses and offer the best quality of life possible.
Advancement in the MM treatment it has been very important, especially in recent years. The first drugs used in the 1960s were drugs that were used to treat all types of hematological malignancies. Towards the end of the 90s, new molecules specifically targeted against myeloma with less side effects and already, in the last decade, they were incorporated new drugs with different mechanisms of action that improve progression-free and overall survival, and delay relapses.
The use of treatment regimens based on the drug combination in patients, whether newly diagnosed or relapsed, both candidates and non-candidates for transplantation, has allowed to significantly improve the response rate, as well as its quality, reaching a negative minimal residual disease, the latter being a surrogate for progression-free survival and overall survival.
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What’s Next in Multiple Myeloma Treatments?
The field of the immunotherapy It has been a very important advance for patients. The CART therapy is a promising new way to get immune cells calls purpose T (a type of white blood cell) of the patient, to fight against Cancer, by transforming them in the laboratory so that they can destroy the malignant cells. Recent studies have shown that T cell therapy with the BCMA protein it holds great promise, even in myeloma patients who have previously undergone multiple lines of treatment.
Accompaniment of patients with Multiple Myeloma
It is important that patients consider that, with more information, better decisions can be taken. In this sense, being in contact with other patients who have gone through the process, listening to their experiences and approaching the NGOs or associations corresponding to their disease is important.
The FAM, Fundación Argentina de Mieloma, has a support program for those who will receive a bone marrow transplant, so that they can be guided and accompanied by patients who experienced it in the first person. This relationship with other patients, who have experienced the different stages since the diagnosis Until treatment, it will surely help to share experiences and ease the way more accurately.
Finally, although it is a incurable illness, nowadays there are really different treatment alternatives that open a path of hope towards the cure In the not too distant future. Patients need to be empower, join and do so in the organizations that group the different pathologies: FAM patients with Myeloma, the Argentine Myeloid Leukemia Association (ALMA) Leukemia patients, and the Argentine Civil Lymphomas Association (ACLA) for those who have the pathology of Lymphoma to help and to be helped.
Dorotea Fantl is a hematologist at HIBA and a member of the Medical Advisory Council of the Fundación Argentina del Mieloma (FAM).