Let’s take a break in the ongoing debate over which myeloma therapy approach to take and focus on the future. I am currently logged-on to an interesting and timely teleconference with Dr. Brian Durie, Medical Director of the International Myeloma Foundation. Dr. Durie is previewing the myeloma related studies which will be presented at the upcoming ASH meetings in New Orleans December 4th – 7th. Important trends to be covered at the meetings include the recycling or re-packaging of therapies thought to be obsolete. Cytoxan in one. Melphalan and prednisone two others. For example, melphalan and prednisone is being tested in combination with both Revlimid and Velcade in current clinical trials and having surprising success. Another focus of the meetings will be to see if it is possible to slow the onset of myeloma, when it is still smoldering, by using pre-onset therapy. The changing role of stem cell transplants will also be investigated. So will the jaw dropping success of the next generation drugs pamalidomide and carfilzomid when used in relapsed, formerly unresponsive myeloma.
This may be a “cheap shot,” (sorry Nick!) but after our exchange over the last few days I felt this was timely. Here is a direct quote from Dr. Durie this morning: “We know with certainty that a second stem cell transplant, administered while a patient is in complete response, provides no statistical benefit.” I wanted to use this quote to illustrate how murky and controversial statistical interpretation can be when looking at existing and ongoing myeloma studies. Here is the Medical Director of the IMF, the founder of the Durie-Salmon Staging System for myeloma, directly contradicting Dr. Barlogie’s findings at the University of Arkansas Myeloma Research Center. This isn’t about who is right or wrong. This is about keeping informed and interpreting both new and existing studies with an optimistic, educated yet skeptical eye. I can’t help but wonder why the IMF isn’t embracing Arkansas’ findings? If the organization is wrong, aren’t they doing a disservice to myeloma patients everywhere?
On that note, I am excited to announce that I will be attending the ASH meetings in New Orleans as a writer on behalf of the IMF this weekend. But I promise to also make time and write several live blog updates from the meetings, starting Friday evening, on both www.HelpWithCancer.Org and www.MultipleMyelomaBlog.Com. In addition to reporting on all of the exciting, new therapy options which will be available soon, maybe I can also get a clearer picture about this growing divide among myeloma experts over which therapy to use and when. I can’t wait to get started!
Feel good and keep smiling everyone! Pat