Moving Forward with Multiple Myeloma

bone xrayMultiple myeloma, a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow, is diagnosed in approximately 30,000 Americans each year. In this disease, malignant plasma cells (which are a type of white blood cell) start growing out of control and can create multiple tumors in the bones. The cancerous plasma cells can also crowd out other cells in the bone marrow, leading to lower blood counts and anemia.

The recent 58th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego devoted a lot of time to new research related to multiple myeloma. The meeting opened with a hopeful message, noting that over the past 12 years, phase 1 trials involving multiple myeloma patients have shown greater therapeutic benefit to enrolled patients when compared to phase 1 trials of all cancer types. This indicates that many researchers have been on promising research tracks, which is further evidenced by a doubling of survival rates for multiple myeloma over the previous dozen years. Currently, multiple myeloma results in 12,650 deaths each year, but new treatment techniques aim to lower this number even further and save lives.

This American Society of Hematology meeting heard results from a new clinical study based on Celgene’s Revlimid (lenalidomide) in patients with multiple myeloma. Revlimid is an oral medication that helps the bone marrow produce normal blood cells and kills abnormal cells in the bone marrow.

In this trial, Revlimid was assessed as maintenance treatment (as compared to no maintenance treatment) in patients after their primary treatment. The key outcome measured in this trial was the length of time for each patient of progression-free survival (PFS). The 857 Revlimid patients averaged 30 months of PFS, while the other patient group of 694 (without Revlimid) only had 18 months of PFS. This study offers important insight into the value of Revlimid as a maintenance treatment in those with multiple myeloma.

Sources

Toich L. Revlimid shows promise as multiple myeloma maintenance therapy. Specialty Pharmacy Times December 13, 2016.

Press release. Advances in multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and other hematologic malignancies presented at annual meeting of American Society of Hematology. December 5, 2016.

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