Dr. Brian Durie was the key-note speaker at this weekend’s IMF conference in Edina, Minnesota. Dr. Durie is an attending physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He is also Senior Advisor for Multiple Myeloma and Related Disorders at Aptium Oncology. Dr. Durie co-created the Durie/Salmon Staging System, which is used worldwide for evaluating patients with myeloma.
I was fortunate, both as a writer and myeloma patient, to meet one-on-one with Dr. Durie just before lunch on Saturday for almost twenty minutes. To put things in perspective, I have personally been wrestling with the decision whether to undergo a stem cell transplant right away, or to continue my plan to delay transplantation as long as possible. Here is Part One of our interview and consultation:
After I introduced myself and gave Dr. Durie a copy of my book, Living with Multiple Myeloma, I spent the first five minutes describing my situation and answering his questions. Dr. Durie agreed mine was a classic myeloma case: At diagnosis, I had a very high M-spike of 5.5, with about 30% of my bone marrow over-run with myeloma cells, plus a large amount of bone damage. (Skeletal involvement oncologists call it. After seeing my MRI, I described it as having bones that looked like Swiss cheese!)
On a positive note, my radiation, Dexamethasone and Revlimid therapy had worked wonders. I have been in complete response (CR) for sixteen months, or, as Dr. Durie calls it, complete remission. That makes more sense, doesn’t it? Using “remission” instead of “response.” But that is a topic for another post.
Dr. Durie and I both agreed I have three options. First, continue taking 10 mg of Revlimid for 21 days, then resting for 7 days, without using Dexamethasone, just like I had been doing for the past 16 months. Second, I could stop therapy altogether, then watch and wait. Third, I could undergo a stem cell transplant now, while I was strong and healthy. I had recently read a study by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center oncologists in Dallas (go back a week or so and you will find several articles about the study here at multiplemyelomablog.com.) stating that patients who underwent a stem cell transplant while in CR had a median survival rate over twice as long as patients that were not in CR.
I will share with you Dr. Duries opinions about that study and my treatment dilemma tomorrow in Part Two.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat