Multiple Myeloma

Important regulator of immune system decoded

Our environment teems with microorganisms and viruses that are potentially harmful. The reason why we survive their daily attacks is the ability of the immune system to neutralize these invaders in numerous ways. Plasma cells ...

Jan 19, 2016
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Researchers advocate improvements in end-of-life care

Three Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers, writing in a special issue of JAMA published today, make the case for policies and practices that give terminally ill patients more control over how and where they will die.

Jan 19, 2016
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Winship multiple myeloma study in The Lancet

A landmark Phase II study led by Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and instrumental in the recent approval of a new multiple myeloma treatment was published online today in The Lancet, one of the oldest and most ...

Jan 06, 2016
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Empliciti approved for multiple myeloma

(HealthDay)—Empliciti (elotuzumab), in combination with two other drugs, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma. The drug is only approved for patients who ...

Nov 30, 2015
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Multiple myeloma (from Greek myelo-, bone marrow), also known as plasma cell myeloma or Kahler's disease (after Otto Kahler), is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell normally responsible for the production of antibodies. Collections of abnormal cells accumulate in bones, where they cause bone lesions (abnormal areas of tissue), and in the bone marrow where they interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Most cases of myeloma also feature the production of a paraprotein, an abnormal antibody that can cause kidney problems and interferes with the production of normal antibodies leading to immunodeficiency. Hypercalcemia (high calcium levels) is often encountered.

Myeloma is diagnosed with blood tests (protein electrophoresis, peripheral blood smear), microscopic examination of the bone marrow (bone marrow biopsy), and radiographs of commonly involved bones. Myeloma is generally thought to be incurable, but remissions may be induced with steroids, chemotherapy, thalidomide and stem cell transplants. Newer drugs, such as lenalidomide and bortezomib, are often used in more advanced disease. Radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat bone lesions that are causing symptoms.

The disease develops in 1–4 per 100,000 people per year. It is more common in men, and for yet unknown reasons is twice as common in African Americans as it is in white Americans. With conventional treatment, the prognosis is 3–4 years, which may be extended to 5–7 years or longer with advanced treatments. Multiple myeloma is the least common hematological malignancy (14%) and constitutes 1% of all cancers.

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