March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, a time to focus attention on a disease that affects about 1.5 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer patients. Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell.
Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 30,000 Americans were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017 and an estimated 12,500 passed away from it.
The revolution in multiple myeloma treatment over the past two decades has been fueled by giant leaps in the understanding of its pathogenesis and the development of several novel agents.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center have long had an important role in developing the understanding of this disease, establishing new definitions for diagnosis, and leading the way to new treatments.
This work began more than 50 years ago with Robert A. Kyle, M.D., whose groundbreaking work on plasma cell proliferative disorders led him to classify these disorders into three groups:
Dr. Kyle's work changed the way multiple myeloma was treated worldwide. Multiple myeloma research has evolved incredibly over the last 10 to 15 years. Today, there are new approaches, drugs and transplants that can be used to bring multiple myeloma into remission.
Send an email to invite people you know to join the Hematology page.