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Health Information Drug Sets a New Survival Standard for Myeloma

Findings from two large, international clinical trials show "unprecedented" survival for patients with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that occurs in the blood-making cells of bone marrow. The findings demonstrate that with Revlimid, an oral cancer drug, all measures of myeloma showed significant improvement in patients where previous treatments had failed. Rush University Medical Center took part in the U.S. study. Results of the study were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the International Myeloma Foundation, follow-up data from the U.S. study and a European study report even better results. Patients treated with Revlimid had a median survival of nearly three years (35 months), the longest median survival in this difficult to treat patient group.

"Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is of growing interest and concern," says Stephanie Gregory, MD, director of the Section of Hematology at Rush University Medical Center. "Statistics show the number of diagnoses is increasing in the United States where most cancers are decreasing, and myeloma is being found in increasingly younger patients. These trends give us some urgency in having potent treatments to fight this disease."

Revlimid is an immunomodulatory agent, a drug that can modify or regulate the functioning of the immune system. It is the newest of what are called the novel therapies that have changed the outlook for myeloma patients. It is an oral drug that can be taken at home, and because it targets the cancer cells directly along with factors that support their growth, it does not have the difficult side effects associated with most chemotherapy.

In Europe and the United States, Revlimid has been approved for use in multiple myeloma, and in the United States it is also approved for a preleukemia condition called Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). It is also being tested in other leukemias and lymphomas, and even in solid tumors.

Myeloma is a bone marrow cancer that attacks and destroys bone. It accounts for about 16,000 new cases of cancer each year. An estimated 56,000 people in the United States are living with myeloma. This year, approximately 11,300 deaths from myeloma are anticipated. While there is no known cure for myeloma, doctors have many approaches to help myeloma patients live better and longer.

The Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Multiple Myeloma Clinic at Rush University Medical Center offers a team approach to diagnosing and treating this complicated disease. The clinic addresses the multiple organ systems that are affected in these patients. The team includes specialists in hematology, stem cell transplantation, orthopedic oncology, neurosurgery, palliative care, integrative medicine, and clinical social work. Many clinical trials are available for both newly diagnosed and relapsed patients. For more information call 1-888-352-RUSH.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • Looking for more information about care for multiple myeloma at Rush, visit the Multiple Myeloma Treatment home page.
  • Looking for information about cancer care at Rush, visit the Cancer Programs home page.
  • For more information about complementary care for cancer at Rush visit our Cancer Integrative Medicine Program home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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