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New advanced treatments offer hope for multiple myeloma patients

IANS Mar 21, 2024

Once known to be a dreaded disease with a short lifespan, patients with multiple myeloma now have better treatment outcomes with medical advancements like bone marrow transplant, immunotherapy and CAR T-cell therapy, said health experts on 20 March.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that arises from plasma cells -- a type of cell normally present in the bone marrow and blood in small numbers. Their function is to produce antibodies that fight against infections. But, when these cells start dividing uncontrollably and spread abnormally in the body, it leads to multiple myeloma.

"Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a cancer of plasma cells, which despite the various complexities, can still be cured. Bone marrow transplant is one of the effective treatments for multiple myeloma. Hematopoietic stem cells reside in the bone marrow. In this procedure, hematopoietic stem cells are collected from the patient or another person," said Rahul Bhargava, Director, of the Department of Clinical Hematology & Bone Marrow Transplant, Fortis Hospital Gurugram.

"Myeloma, till a few years back, was a dreaded disease with a lifespan of only a few years. Advancements in newer methods like immunotherapy and CAR T-cell therapy promise better treatment outcomes. This has led to an increase in survival which is now more than 7-8 years, even more than a decade in many patients. The survival is further increased by doing the bone marrow transplant in these patients in a hospital setting," added Ashish Gupta, a multiple myeloma expert and Chief of Medical Oncology at Unique Hospital Cancer Centre, Delhi.

Unexplained kidney failure, back pain with broken bones as well as long-term anaemia, fatigue and infections in the urine are some of the common symptoms of the disease.

"In multiple myeloma patients now survival is longer. Medications do not cause hair loss, and they are now slowly moving from intravenous to subcutaneous, like a jab for an insulin injection and along with oral medications which are making life very easy for patients with myeloma," said Ashish Gupta.

Rahul Bhargava noted that BMT's success in multiple myeloma patients depends on early treatment.

"Too much delay in the procedure can considerably affect the clinical outcomes. In patients, recovery is 90 per cent, who received the treatment within the recovery time-frame," the doctor said.

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