For multiple myeloma, the first treatments often represent the very best opportunity to either put the cancer into remission or effectively treat it with the least amount of side effects. In fact, the survival rate has doubled in the past decade, enabling multiple myeloma patients to lead full, productive lives for years or decades after diagnosis.

The OSUCCC – James is a world leader in blood cancer treatment, developing some of the very latest advancements in molecular testing and targeting cancer genes — technology that’s available at only a few cancer centers in the country. In fact, our physician experts actually help write the national clinical guidelines for treating specific cancers.

Our treatment team includes internationally recognized blood cancer experts and world-renowned subspecialists, including hematologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, blood cancer researchers, genomic experts and more. Working together and across medical disciplines, this super specialized team develops individualized, highly targeted treatment plans that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer.

Multiple Myeloma Treatment Options

The OSUCCC – James is a leader in offering some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated treatments for multiple myeloma patients.

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our blood cancer subspecialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on blood and bone marrow disorders and who reach across medical disciplines (hematologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, blood cancer researchers, genomic experts and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms:

Watchful Waiting

Some multiple myeloma patients have no symptoms, and because of that, they often do not need immediate treatment. They should, however, be regularly and closely monitored until signs or symptoms appear. This is called watchful waiting.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy destroys the myeloma cells directly. Chemotherapy drugs can be taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, and they may be given over a period of months.

When the drugs enter the bloodstream, they can reach cancer cells throughout the body (called systemic chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy uses more than one anticancer drug.

Chemotherapy treatment usually takes place in an outpatient part of the hospital, at your doctor's office or in your home. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for treatment.

Corticosteroid Therapy

Corticosteroids are steroids (made either in the body or in a laboratory) that have anti-tumor effects on multiple myeloma. They can be used alone or with other drugs, depending on each patient’s individual cancer. Corticosteroids also help relieve some side effects felt after chemotherapy.

Lenalidomide & Pomalidomide

These two drugs bind to surface proteins of myeloma cells and contribute to their death. 

Targeted Therapies for Multiple Myeloma

Targeted therapies are drugs that attack cancer cells without destroying healthy surrounding cells. By delivering these drugs in combination with chemotherapy, targeted therapies interrupt certain proteins and receptors to stop cancer cells from growing.

Highly effective for treating multiple myeloma while causing fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy, targeted therapies can keep multiple myeloma in remission for years and sometimes even for decades.

The OSUCCC – James is one of the few cancer centers in the nation to offer targeted therapies for multiple myeloma.

Possible targeted therapies may involve the following:

Immune System Modulators

Drugs like lenalidomide and pomalidomide not only bind to myeloma cells but they also stimulate other immune cells (specifically T-cells). Hence, these drugs make great partners with antibodies.

Biological Therapies

Drugs called proteasome inhibitors make it harder for myeloma cells to deal with proteins inside their cells, causing them to die

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.

The OSUCCC – James radiation experts are leaders in innovative radiation treatments, and The James is one of the few hospitals in Ohio to offer radiation treatments where the patient is lying down.

The OSUCCC – James also offers other leading-edge radiation treatments, including imaging-based radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery and using a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator

High-Dose Chemotherapy with Stem Cell Transplant

Stem cell transplants enable patients to receive chemotherapy treatment, and then later, replace blood-forming cells that have been destroyed by cancer treatment.

Stem cells, which are immature blood cells, are removed from the blood or bone marrow of either the patient or a donor, and then they are frozen and stored. After chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into and restore the body's blood cells.

If a stem cell transplant is needed, the OSUCCC – James has one of the most active, sophisticated programs in the nation.

Maintenance Therapy

After initial treatment, patients will sometimes receive maintenance therapy to help keep their multiple myeloma in remission.

Because there is always a chance that the cancer may come back or progress, it’s important to see your OSUCCC – James subspecialist regularly for follow-up exams.

(Source: National Cancer Institute )

Tumor Sequencing & Genomic Analysis

At the OSUCCC – James, our advanced treatment-design approach begins with something called tumor sequencing.

This sophisticated technology pinpoints the order (or sequence) of DNA in your tumor. By studying your specific genes and DNA changes, our blood cancer experts can pinpoint what’s driving your multiple myeloma. Because of that detailed expert analysis, our team of multiple myeloma subspecialists can design a treatment specifically targeted to those particular changes.

Our testing is among the most comprehensive available anywhere, testing for more genetic mutations and molecular changes than nearly any other hospital or commercial laboratory in the nation. In fact, our experts can often match patients to targeted treatments that are available only in clinical trials conducted at the OSUCCC – James.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, boosts a multiple myeloma patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or in a laboratory are used to direct or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. Treatments can include treating patients with proteins that block tumor growth (called monoclonal antibodies) and vaccines.

Multiple Myeloma Research & Clinical Trials

For multiple myeloma patients, clinical trials mean hope.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more of this nation’s leading-edge, targeted treatments and drugs than at most hospitals in America.

Who Should Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their individual treatments.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only four U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

The internationally recognized experts at the OSUCCC – James believe the best way to treat patients and manage their disease successfully is to be at the forefront of delivering the latest, most effective treatments available and by working with nationally and internationally renowned experts to develop the newest and best acute multiple myeloma treatments and programs.

Because these renowned subspecialists understand that multiple myeloma is a complex disease, they use the most effective means of treating patients through an expert team approach from across multiple medical disciplines. These teams also run groundbreaking studies, and through detailed observations, evaluate the latest treatments and targeted therapies for each patient.

The OSUCCC – James team of experts analyzes the genetic composition of each individual’s multiple myeloma to determine the best possible treatment, offering improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a blood cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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