Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells, which are part of the body’s immune system.
Plasma cells, make proteins called antibodies that help the immune system attack and kill germs. When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they can produce high levels of antibodies, called a monoclonal gammopathy, that can be detected in the blood.
Clinical research trials represent some of the most advanced treatment options. Click here to learn more.
Multiple myeloma causes other problems for patients, including painful bone lesions, fractures of bones, damage to kidneys, suppression of the immune system, and reduction I the red blood cells (anemia). Some patients have an indolent form of myeloma called “smoldering myeloma”; many of these patients may be observed without immediate need for treatment. Other patients with myeloma are made ill by their disease and require immediate treatment.
Treatment for multiple myeloma used to consist of chemotherapy, but chemotherapy is only part of the equation now. In fact, targeted therapies have become the mainstay of treatment. Over the past 15 years, more than 10 targeted therapies have been approved by the FDA for use in myeloma patients. Such targeted therapies include the following categories of drugs:
- Immune modulators such as thalidomide, lenalidomide, and pamalidomide. These drugs are orally administered and are highly active in myeloma.
- Proteasome inhibitors such as bortezomib, carfilzomib, and ixazomib, also highly active and important in many myeloma drug regimens.
- Monoclonal antibodies. These are the “new kids on the block” having just been approved by the FDA in myeloma in 2015. Elotuzumab adaratumumab are the two agents that have been approved as of September 2016.
- Radiation therapy also plays an important role in some myeloma patients, as it can help to alleviate pain from bone lesions. RMCC has multiple facilities around the state where patients can receive radiation therapy in a center convenient for them.
- A complex technique called autologous stem cell transplantation is commonly employed in younger patients with myeloma. RMCC physicians do not perform autologous stem cell transplantation themselves but work closely with colleagues at other institutions who do.
Multiple Myeloma Research and Clinical Trials
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, advancing cancer care through research and innovation is part of our mission. As part of the national US Oncology network, we are able to provide access to the latest therapies available through clinical trials.
RMCC’s dedicated oncologists and researchers, and patients, have been instrumental in gaining approval for emerging therapies that have transformed treatment and prognosis for patients with multiple myeloma.
Currently, we are researching emerging therapies and therapy combinations for multiple myelomas. See a full list of our current clinical trials for multiple myeloma.