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Urgent need to create awareness about multiple myeloma and its treatment

As March is observed as Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, Manipal Hospital met the press on March 23 to create widespread awareness of the d...

As March is observed as Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, Manipal Hospital met the press on March 23 to create widespread awareness of the disease among the general public. Dr. Mallikarjun Kalashetty, Consultant - Haematology, Haemato Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplantation, and Dr. Ashish Dixit, Consultant - Haematology, Haemato Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplantation, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road highlighted the importance of detecting and treating multiple myeloma early to achieve a better prognosis and a good quality of life.

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that arises from plasma cells, accounting for 10–15% of blood cancers. At present, the incidence of this type of cancer in India is about 1in 100,000 cases, but recent statistics indicate a probability of an increase in cases in metropolitan cities.

Compared to the western world, multiple myeloma affects relatively patients who are younger at diagnosis, thus, patients are likely to have a higher disease burden at diagnosis with more patients suffering from myeloma-associated severe bone disease, renal failure, and spinal cord compression. Patients of Multiple Myeloma suffer from various manifestations like back and bone pain, weakness, fatigue, infections, and renal failure. Because of these varied clinical manifestations, they may end up visiting other specialty doctors and as a result, the diagnosis of multiple myeloma is often delayed.

Dr. Kalashetty said, “Diagnosis of multiple myeloma is confirmed with bone marrow examination. We can assess the extent of involvement of bones with Various advanced imaging techniques. We also use advanced molecular genetic techniques to risk stratify cancer and all of these can be done in just a couple of days.”

The bone marrow transplant centre at Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, Bangalore is the oldest transplantation center in Karnataka and one of the first few in South India. The department of hematology in the hospital sees about 50 new cases every month from the eastern part of India, especially West Bengal.

Treatment of Multiple Myeloma has evolved remarkably in the last few decades. Dr. Dixit says, “We manage these types of cancer with a combination of targeted therapy and stem cell transplant. Proteasome inhibitors are an example of targeted therapy used in multiple myeloma patients. The treatment of myeloma has immensely advanced with the inclusion of immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and monoclonal antibodies, making long-term survival possible with a good quality of life.”

Despite the availability of various treatments, there come challenges when it comes to diagnosing this condition. It is due to a lack of accessibility to healthcare resources, lack of awareness about the disease, and delay in diagnosis and treatment which lead to patients suffering from various complications of cancer. Bone marrow transplant is one of the standard consolidation therapy in myeloma. However, lack of awareness and availability makes it inaccessible to a large majority of patients. There is a need to address this issue with increased education and awareness among the public about multiple myeloma.


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