Here are a few highlights for those of you that did not participate in the interactive program, Managing Myeloma: An Expert’s Update, featuring Dr. Kenneth Anderson of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The program was sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Thursday.
Having been exposed to Dana-Farber’s myeloma treatment philosophy through patient and staffing contacts in Boston, my initial impression was that Dr. Anderson and Dana-Farber features an advanced, yet traditional approach to treating multiple myeloma.
The introductory part of Dr. Anderson’s presentation was comprehensive and organized—pretty standard stuff, as you might expect. However, I did find it interesting he singled out high exposure to pesticides and radiation as causal agents of this cancer. I’m hearing that more and more from a variety of credible sources.
New novel therapies (Thalomid, Revlimid, Velcade) are overcoming genetic obstacles which previously predicted low survivability in those patients.
Median survival rates have doubled for myeloma patients in last five years—from three or four years to seven or eight years now.
Monoclonal anti-bodies being combined with Revlimid therapy with exciting potential.
Dr. Anderson directly addressed question about whether a patient in CR should go ahead with stem cell transplant now or wait? His answer: We don’t know. His recommendation was to harvest now and wait, using maintenance therapy. Someone with more aggressive myeloma who wasn’t able to achieve CR should consider proceeding to transplant right away.
Dr. Anderson treated the original patient to ever take Revlimid and patient is still using Revlimid and cancer free ten years later! These results are consistant with Dr. Durie’s patient who has successfully used Revlimid for over eight years. Both exceptional examples, but outstanding results!
Pomalidomide trials showing very promising results in relapsed myeloma—better than Revlimid or Thalomid.
Use of Revlimid and/or Velcade as a low dose maintenance therapy showing improved results when used following stem cell transplants.
Most promising therapies are combination therapies. Three ongoing Stage III clinical trials are all working. Dr. Anderson was very positive about the future! He compared myeloma therapy in the near future to gains made in treating childhood leukemia, where 85% of these leukemia patients are still alive ten years later.
Feel good, keep smiling and take comfort from Dr. Anderson’s up-beat report about promising combination therapies! Pat