One of the first questions every myeloma patient asks when they are diagnosed is "How long will I live with multiple myeloma?" The second most common questions is "Is there a cure?"
In this HealthTree University video (from the Myeloma Basics 1 course), Dr. Rafael Fonseca of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and Dr. Natalie Callander of the University of Wisconsin share that myeloma is typically a disease that patients can live with for years, not weeks or months. According to both Dr. Fonseca and Dr. Callander, standard risk patients can have a survival of 8-10+ years while patients with more aggressive or high risk myeloma genetic features are not as fortunate with an average 3-5 year survival. There are, however, patients who could be considered "cured" based on how that cure is defined. Some patients have lived over 20 years without treatment without their disease returning. Could you consider those patients functionally cured? The experts think so.
Dr. Usmani and Dr. Fonseca stress important points. With the incredible development happening in myeloma today (immunotherapies and a large pipeline of new treatment options and combinations) our lives could be extended by just getting us to the next new treatment option. This is called the future "value of options" or because we have achieved a 10+ year remission, so many more options are now available.
Considerable work is being done to separate patients into risk categories. Will all different types of myeloma be cured? Most likely not, but strategies are now available to treat certain types of myeloma with different combinations of drugs or different treatment approaches - something that has never happened before.
A decade ago, no myeloma doctor would ever dare mention "curing" myeloma and it is refreshing to hear that term as a treatment goal in myeloma research today.
About HealthTree University
HealthTree University, provided by the Myeloma Crowd, offers a comprehensive online multiple myeloma curriculum with classes, lessons and quizzes. Learn for free at https://www.healthtree.org. Topics covered include: myeloma basics, testing and blood markers, stem cell transplant, financial resources, immunotherapies, myeloma genetics and much more. We've partnered with over 60 myeloma experts to help you learn quickly. Improve the way you navigate your disease and obtain better outcomes with HealthTree University.
about the author
Cynthia (Cindy) Chmielewski is a professional educator and myeloma advocate. As a former teacher, she now teaches myeloma patients how to advocate for themselves as the Director of HealthTree University. You can follow her on Twitter @myelomateacher