Multiple myeloma: Advanced treatments a good reason for optimism

| | New Delhi
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Multiple myeloma: Advanced treatments a good reason for optimism

Wednesday, 07 April 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

Raj Kapahi (62) who had been for the past ten years living with Multiple Myeloma (MM), a type of blood cancer that adversely impacts plasma (white blood cells) production in the body, is now back to her normal routine and living a healthy life.

Senior haematologist Dr Rahul Bhargava from Institute of Blood Disorder, Fortis Hospital,  Gurugram along with his team conducted the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) on the J&K resident. They used Kapahi’s own cells for transplant, thereby reducing the chances of rejection and infections.

MM is a type of cancer that arises from plasma cells in case they start dividing uncontrollably and spread abnormally in the body. Myeloma can present with various symptoms with the most common being unexplained renal failure,  back pain with broken bones as well as long term anaemia, fatigue and infections in the urine. Doctors say that cancerous myeloma can be destructive to the bones.

The disease has been in the news recently when actor and Lok Sabha MP, Kirron Kher, 68 has been found to be suffering from MM. She is recovering well, says her doctors.

Dr. Pravas Mishra, Director, Hemato-Oncology & BMT, Max Hospital added, currently, we are seeing nearly one to two myeloma cases for every 100,000. So, that translates to about 50,000 new cases of multiple myeloma every year and that might be just the tip of the iceberg considering that a large number of cases must be unreported.

Dr Bhargava shared that MM a few years back was a non-curable disorder, but advancements in newer therapies and new drugs coming into the market is promising an operational cure and  control for the long term.

“The survival is further increased by doing the BMT in these patients, which is not so expensive these days and requires patients to stay for around 10 days in hospital. “

Dr Bhargava further says “ If MM is diagnosed at an early stage, the survival is longer. Medications are no longer expensive as well as do not cause hair loss, diarrhoea and nausea. The Myeloma treatment medications are now slowly moving from Intravenous to subcutaneous, like a jab for an insulin injection and along with oral medications which are making the life very easy for patients to live with myeloma”

Dr Mishra too talked about some of the available options for the treatment of MM. “We are using immuno-modulatory drugs. So, those are not exactly chemotherapy… and then recently we have now started using monoclonal antibodies in multiple myeloma as well. The number of molecules are simply mind-boggling. So, if you start with treatment, you do a transplant and if the person still relapses, there is a possibility of giving him/her a new molecule, bring him back into remission and then again do a transplant.”

Dr. Lalit Kumar, Oncologist from Department of Medical Oncology, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS, Delhi too in an article published last year in a journal said, “survival of patients with myeloma has improved significantly in the past two decades. .. This has been attributed to a better understanding of biology, the introduction of novel agents (immunomodulators, proteasome inhibitors), autologous stem cell transplantation, and maintenance therapy. Supportive care is an important component of overall care for these patients.

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