CHEMOTHERAPY and drugs have helped to double survival rates in patients with multiple myeloma, according to the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer arising from plasma cells, a type of white blood cell which is made in the bone marrow. In myeloma, these plasma cells become abnormal, multiply uncontrollably and release only one type of antibody which has no useful function.
The treatment of multiple myeloma, “has revolutionised over the past 15 years,” said Albert Oriol, haematologist and researcher from Barecelona’s Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation.
More than 2,000 people in Spain are diagnosed with the condition each year with the disease having a higher incidence in those aged over 65.
As there is no complete cure, “today, the goal is to keep this cancer under control and patients as long as possible, free of symptoms,” said Oriol, through a combination of specific drugs and bone marrow transplantation in young patients.
The researcher is working with colleagues in the USA and Canada on new drug combinations to prolong patient’s survival and quality of life. “We’re improving rapidly, and we have learnt a lot already,” said Oriol.