Every day 7 more Canadians are diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a devastating and incurable cancer of bone marrow plasma cells. Despite being the third most common blood cancer, following lymphoma and leukemia, multiple myeloma is relatively unknown to Canadians.
Multiple myeloma is a complex disease creating challenges even before diagnosis. The first stage of the disease, called smouldering myeloma, is usually asymptomatic, meaning there are no signs or symptoms present. Patients will often see their doctor for back pain, fatigue, or recurrent infections. Upon further tests, the myeloma is confirmed. People diagnosed with this first stage aren’t given any treatment but are monitored by their physician to determine and track disease progression.
Because multiple myeloma is incurable, once it does progress, the objective of treatment is to keep the disease at bay for as long as possible. Sadly, all multiple myeloma patients — even those on treatment — will relapse at one point with this disease, creating challenges with management of this cancer.
In addition to chronic pain, the disease can lead to anemia, infections, osteoporosis, bone damage, and kidney failure. Treatment often includes chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplants.
While multiple myeloma remains a difficult disease to manage, there have been a number of treatment advances in recent years providing hope to those living with the cancer. Just recently, Health Canada approved Ninlaro for adult patients with multiple myeloma. As myeloma is a relapsing and recurring disease, new treatment options are critical for patients who have exhausted standard treatments. – NewsCanada