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To our patients, their loved ones, and our community,
Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the United States. Each year there are around 32,000 new cases and 13,000 deaths. We want those with multiple myeloma and their families to know that multiple myeloma is a very treatable disease. The Huntsman Cancer Institute Multiple Myeloma Program and other myeloma research communities continue to press forward in search of a cure and new treatments to improve survival for people with this disease.
Multiple myeloma occurs when a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell starts growing uncontrollably. Plasma cells live in the bone and produce antibodies. Antibodies are a type of protein that help the immune system fight infections.
When these cells start to change and grow uncontrollably, it can cause a lot of health problems. Health problems occur when the myeloma cells secrete a substance that breaks down the bone. This leads to high levels of calcium in the blood and weakens the bones. In some patients, the proteins produced by the myeloma cells damage kidneys, which can lead to kidney injury or failure.
In the past 15 years, research and new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals for treatment have improved survival statistics for patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Five new FDA approvals for myeloma occurred in 2020 alone. While most patients are not cured, new treatments are allowing patients to live 10 or more years after diagnosis.
Clinical trials are actively researching new treatments, such as immunotherapy. These treatments have the potential to increase the survival of our patients in a significant way. It is an exciting time in the field of multiple myeloma, and we continue to strive towards finding a cure.
The Huntsman Cancer Institute Multiple Myeloma Team