When things get difficult, you can’t let yourself stop. You have to keep moving forward." Bob Dickey, survivor
Getting treated for myeloma at City of Hope gives you access to exceptional, coordinated care and makes you the focus of a team of world class doctors and scientists. This team knows the newest and best treatments for myeloma — and likely played a role in their approval.
The Judy and Bernard Briskin Center for Multiple Myeloma Research at City of Hope is known internationally for its research breakthroughs and clinical treatments. We treat the full spectrum of disease — whether you are in the early precursor stage, are newly diagnosed, have cancer that has returned or have failed other therapies.
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City of Hope’s world renowned myeloma cancer care team uses the latest technology and innovation to treat cancer while providing compassionate care. Call 800-826-HOPE or request an appointment online. Visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
City of Hope is internationally recognized for its research and breakthrough treatments, has been named one of America’s top cancer hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for over a decade running and is a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.
City of Hope is one of only a few dozen centers in the country that treat myeloma using a comprehensive approach — by a multidisciplinary team whose sole focus is treating this type of cancer. Your care includes regular interaction and input from a team that includes hematologists, oncologists, radiologists and pathologists, along with nurses, social workers and specially trained support staff. This team brings together deep experience and diverse perspectives — shaped by seeing and treating myeloma every day — to arrive at the ideal treatment for every patient.
December 25, 2015
November 20, 2015
Myeloma is the second most common type of blood cancer — accounting for around 1 percent of blood cancer cases. It develops in plasma cells, white blood cells that grow in bone marrow. Myeloma most often affects the aged — most cases are diagnosed in people age 65 and older. Although myeloma grows within bone, it is not considered bone cancer.
This year more than 30,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with myeloma, according to the American Cancer Society.
Parts of the body involved in myeloma include:
There are several types of myeloma — all related yet appearing and acting differently in the body. While myeloma is a rare disease overall, the most commonly diagnosed is multiple myeloma:
Other, rarer forms of myeloma include:
Myeloma is categorized based on whether it has symptoms and how quickly it develops:
Similar to myeloma, amyloidosis is a disease caused by defective plasma cells producing too much protein, but the protein affects areas of the body that are different from myeloma — such as the heart, kidneys and digestive system. Because what is underlying the two diseases is similar, this condition is sometimes treated with some of the same therapies as myeloma, including certain drug therapies and stem cell transplantation.
Things that put you at higher risk for getting myeloma are called risk factors. Doctors do not fully understand what causes most cases of myeloma, and even defined risk factors do not have strong associations with developing myeloma. Some of those risk factors include:
There are few early warning signs of myeloma — and some people have none at all. Symptoms of myeloma that appear at diagnosis are sometimes referred to by the acronym CRAB, which stands for:
As a result of these problems, some of the most common symptoms of myeloma include:
Symptoms of other medical conditions may mirror some of those involved with myeloma. If you are treated for those conditions, or if your symptoms last for several weeks despite medical treatment, you may need further consultation to rule out myeloma.
What inspires and excites me about the field is knowing there are even more new therapies in development that will have a huge impact on treating this disease. It is rare in the hematology field to see a disease that has made such advances in such a short time. Amrita Krishnan, M.D. Director, Judy and Bernard Briskin Center for Multiple Myeloma Research
Myeloma is group of cancers with overlapping features — identifying its different forms is challenging —and since every patient’s disease looks different, getting an accurate diagnosis is important.
For these reasons treatment at City of Hope begins with leading-edge diagnostics, performed by world-renowned hematopathologists who are well versed about the entire spectrum of this disease. This powerful combination of experience, next generation technology and talent is why City of Hope is known for improving survival among myeloma patients, especially those with advanced or misdiagnosed disease.
Myeloma is diagnosed using various tests, including:
Once a diagnosis is determined, other tests may be performed to figure out how much myeloma is in the body, how aggressive it is and where it is located. Those tests include:
At City of Hope, diagnosis involves performing an extra layer of assessment among older patients to determine how well they can tolerate treatments such as chemotherapy.
There is no one treatment for myeloma. In other words, one size does not fit all. And here at City of Hope, we tailor treatments for each individual. This personalized medicine always offers the best options and outcomes for our patients. Amrita Krishnan, M.D., Director, Multiple Myeloma Program
City of Hope’s approach to treating myeloma starts with a coordinated, multidisciplinary care team, composed of myeloma specialists, whose main goals are controlling your disease so that you can live longer and maintain an active life.
Treatment advances are happening rapidly in myeloma and new agents approved recently mean survival has risen dramatically. We are among the centers at the forefront of that progress. City of Hope was involved in pivotal early trials on two drugs that are now part of myeloma therapy worldwide: daratumumab and ixazomib.
Each patient’s disease is distinct, so treatment plans are individualized and incorporate the newest combination therapies — for example, promising new immunotherapies often are combined with chemotherapy to increase the chances treatment will be effective.
While we treat the entire spectrum of disease, City of Hope is exceptionally experienced with treating patients who have high-risk disease, relapsed disease and those who have failed previous therapies.
All of our treatments are designed with quality of life in mind. We keep drug toxicity to a minimum so that you can continue to work and live normally, and we tailor therapy to include medications, called bisphosphonates, to deal with common disease-related bone problems. The goals of myeloma treatment at City of Hope include:
Types of myeloma therapy
Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation
The most effective treatment for myeloma is high-dose chemotherapy combined with stem cell transplant, and City of Hope is a true innovator in this area — with one of the largest and most successful transplantation programs in the world.
We have set standards for stem cell transplantation and improving long-term outcomes. Using innovative approaches for blood and bone marrow transplantation to treat myeloma has led our Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute to be considered an industry leader with unrivaled survival rates.
To address the growing need for high quality transplantation, City of Hope recently expanded its bone marrow transplantation program to include outpatient procedures, allowing patients to return home after treatment. The program allows greater autonomy for multiple myeloma patients undergoing autologous (using their own cells) transplants and consistently receives high satisfaction ratings.
Chemotherapy, a common treatment for myeloma, uses drugs to either kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. This approach usually is necessary to kill cancer cells circulating throughout the body.
Exciting advances in chemotherapy at City of Hope are allowing patients with advanced disease to get drug combinations —including combining targeted therapies, radiotherapies and immunotherapies with chemotherapy — designed to slow down disease progression and improve quality of life.
Immunotherapy is a way of awakening the immune system to action against cancer cells. Immune cells patrol the body in search of disease, but cancer cells often devise ways to get around or suppress them. City of Hope is developing and testing drugs that can unleash dramatic and specific immune responses to cancer cells — or make them visible to the immune system.
City of Hope has virtually unrivaled expertise with immunotherapy — and was involved in pivotal early trials on drugs that are now a big part of myeloma therapy worldwide, including daratumumab. We are on the leading-edge of drug treatment for myeloma, and we have ongoing clinical trials aimed at identifying even more effective immunotherapy treatments, including exciting advances in CAR-T cell therapy, check point inhibitors, bispecific antibodies and novel antibody-drug conjugates.
City of Hope uses the latest technology to spot genetic vulnerabilities in cancer cells and use medications to stop them from growing. Knowing how a tumor behaves and how it would respond to different therapies allows us to created targeted therapies: drugs or drug combinations that would work best to treat specific cancers.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill plasma cells and shrink tumors. It is an effective treatment for myeloma and often is paired with other treatments. City of Hope offers advanced radiation treatments that are highly targeted to cancer cells while protecting the surrounding normal tissue.
One technique, TomoTherapy, includes delivering focused radiation to the entire bone marrow compartment. The technique, called total marrow irradiation, is an effective way to target cancer cells while reducing side effects.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat multiple myeloma, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care.
There are a number of things happening in clinical trials right now that are very promising. And we are in the process of launching an exciting study looking at CAR-T cell therapy for myeloma. Maung Myo Htut, M.D., hematologist/oncologist
Getting treated for myeloma at City of Hope means you are steps away from labs where new treatments for cancer are being developed every day. That proximity means you benefit from something unique in cancer care — “bench to bedside” treatment. Bench to bedside means innovative research we are conducting at our on-campus research laboratories is moved quickly to the bedside to treat patients.
Our program is known internationally for its research breakthroughs and clinical treatments — we are at the forefront of new therapies and have the technology to identify new potential targets for new drugs.
The Kenneth Goldman and Briskin Family Clinical Trials Program manages and coordinates all trials related to the treatment of multiple myeloma. We offer access to dozens of clinical trials and new therapies not always available elsewhere.
Our latest research is focused on new drugs and drug combinations that target and attack relapsed myeloma which has become resistant to first-line treatment.
Browse through some of our clinical trials and research projects.
When you come to City of Hope, you have access to a strong network of support services and staff to help you and your family along your cancer journey. That support is an integral part of your care and includes everything from financial counseling to talk therapy to meditation to being paired up with a patient navigator.
We can help with all of the following concerns, and more:
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Community is an online community of people living with or supporting someone with blood cancer. Get connected and share your voice to drive change.
Diagnosed at age 44 with advanced multiple myeloma, a disease usually occurring in people 70 and older, Bob Dickey doesn't let his disease stop him from living life to the fullest.