Category: Myeloma

Myeloma

Kidney cancer may be linked to multiple myeloma

I just noticed this on Reuters and wanted to post it before I forgot about it.  I’ll comment later on and will be looking for the original article published in the medical journal.
Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:29pm EDT

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – For the first time, researchers have evidence of an association between renal cell carcinoma and multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, one that “cannot be explained by random incidence alone,” they say.

“I think general oncologists as well as myeloma and renal cancer physicians should be aware of this association,” Dr. Mohamad A. Hussein of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, noted in comments to Reuters Health.

Renal cell carcinoma begins in the kidney cells and although it may progress slowly, it is very resistance to chemotherapy. Multiple myeloma, which may also progress slowly, is likewise resistant to treatment. It begins in the blood’s plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system. Over time, myeloma cells build up in bone marrow and then in the solid parts of bone.

In a review of data from patients referred to the Cleveland Clinic between 1990 and 2005, Hussein and colleagues identified 1,100 patients with multiple myeloma, 2,704 with renal cell carcinoma, and 8 with both types of cancer.

In 4 of the 8 patients, renal cell carcinoma was diagnosed 3 to 46 months after the multiple myeloma diagnosis. In the remaining 4, renal cell carcinoma was diagnosed 1 to 108 months before the multiple myeloma. Seven of the 8 patients were first diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma on the right side.

“The probability of this association was much higher than that expected in the general population,” the researchers note in the medical journal BJU International. “No clear treatment-related, environmental, genetic or immune-mediated common factors can fully explain this association.”

The investigators point out that interleukin-6 supports the growth and expansion of both types of cancer. Interleukin-6 is a “cytokine” that normally enhances the body’s immune response to disease and infection.

“I think the take-home message,” Hussein said, “is that after active therapy for myeloma, if the kidney lesion does not clear — especially if it is affecting the right kidney — renal cell cancer should be considered.”

In this study, when myeloma was the first malignancy diagnosed, “the renal cell carcinoma was at a very early stage and therefore surgical exploration is critical.”

SOURCE: BJU International, March 2008.

MMSupport.net unveils “Ask the Expert”, featuring Multiple Myeloma physician and scientist, James R. Berenson, M.D.

MMSupport.net unveils “Ask the Expert”, featuring Multiple Myeloma physician and scientist, James R. Berenson, M.D.
 
Ask the Expert is a free online web-forum where Myeloma and Bone Cancer specialist, Dr. James R. Berenson offers medical answers to questions surrounding quality of life and longevity issues for patients living with this rare form of cancer.
 
Los Angeles, CA – MMSupport.net and the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research are proud to announce the creation of “Ask the Expert”, a free online web-forum featuring Multiple Myeloma expert, Dr. James R. Berenson.
 
MMSupport.net is the creation of myeloma-advocate, Beth Morgan.  The website serves to foster community in the form of an online forum where patients and caregivers could learn more about Multiple Myeloma, a plasma cell cancer that resides in the bone marrow.  Thousands of people visit MMSupport.net every day.  Many visitors are Myeloma and Bone Cancer patients, caregivers and other medical professionals who actively participate in online discussions about treatment options and personal experiences.  “Ask the Expert” is the latest addition to the MMSupport.net website and is available at no charge by registering on the site.  Visit www.mmsupport.net for more information.
 
James R. Berenson, MD has 25 years experience in treating Multiple Myeloma and Bone Cancer patients.  Dr. Berenson is CEO and Medical Director for The Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research and CEO and President of Oncotherapeutics, an oncology-specific clinical trials management service.  Dr. Berenson is an active clinician who treats patients daily in his Los Angeles offices and acts as a specialist consult to patient’s primary oncologist or primary care physician throughout the world. For more information, visit www.berensononcology.com
 
The Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research, based in Los Angeles, California, is an independent cancer research institute with a primary focus on hematologic cancers.  Established in 2004, the IMBCR is a 501 c (3) non-profit organization.  Over the last four years, the IMBCR has created novel breakthrough therapies that have substantially increased the longevity and quality of life of myeloma patients. The latest initiative at the institute is “The Cure Myeloma Project”, a multi-year research project that targets myeloma cells while keeping the non-cancerous cells intact.  For more information or to make a donation, visit www.imbcr.org
 
###
Media contact:
Beth Morgan, MMsupport.net beth.morgan@connectnc.com or,
Cheryl A. Cross, MPH, Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research ccross@imbcr.org 866-900-1035

Shingles almost gone

The shingles on my head - getting better

This is what my head looks like now.  The rash is gone.  There’s discoloration there, and the skin is extremely sensitive.  Sometimes it itches, too. I have another appointment to see the eye doctor on Tuesday, and I think it will be the last one for this.

If you’re wondering, the thing sticking out of my ear is from my iPod. This has been the first time I’ve tried to use it since before I had shingles. The virus caused pain even in my ear, which made it hurt to listen to music or even the telephone on that side. I still have headaches on the left side of my head, but they’re not as bad and not as constant as they were even a week ago.

You can see that my hair is growing. I hope to look half way normal by spring.

The picture was taken with PhotoBooth on the Mac, which, for reasons unknown to me, produces a mirror image.  So, when I talk of having shingles on the left side, it’s true.

More about shingles

And I thought famvir made me sick

On Friday I started taking famvir for an outbreak of shingles.  I knew from previous times that famvir gave me a pretty bad headache, but I thought I’d do it anyway and maybe this time it wouldn’t happen.  I withstood it for almost 4 full days, but then called the doctor to get something else. It was a wicked headache and I thought anything else had to be better.  I got the rx for acyclovir Tuesday and took my first dose with dinner. Pretty soon I was experiencing nausea.  Those of you who know me, know that this is a serious situation. I fought off the nausea for four hours and then finally had an episode of vomiting and diarrhea.  It was over fast, and probably not worth the four hours I spent trying to avoid it. We do what we do though, and it’s hard to overcome a phobia you’ve had all your life. This could have very well been a coincidence, but I attributed it to the acyclovir (nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are reported possible side effects).  I called my doctor the next day, and a nurse asked me if I could tolerate the famvir headache for just 3 more days.  So, I’m back on famvir now.  Just a couple of days to go.  Afterwards, I will probably take one a day to help prevent a recurrence of shingles.

The eye doctor told me that he saw no internal goings-on in my eye.  Only the exterior was affected, including the eyelid (outside and inside).  I have an antibiotic ointment to apply twice daily and a return appointment next week.

I should expect to have a complete recovery anywhere from a few weeks to 6 weeks.

More about shingles

I just learned that shingles’ name comes from the Latin cingulum, which means girdle or belt. There’s a lot of useful information about shingles at the FDA web site.

Eye doctor

Shingles on the left side of my faceI’m seeing the doctor this afternoon about my left eye, which is afflicted with shingles. If an eye is ever affected by shingles, get to a doctor, asap!

Here’s a new picture of what the rash looks like.  Don’t click on the thumbnail if you don’t want to see it.  I think it’s hideous.  I try to stay in so that I don’t attract mobs of torch-wielding villagers out in front of the house.

I’m still taking the 500 mg  of Famvir three times a day and am taking some oxycodone as needed.  I never thought I’d say this, but I wish I had some dex.

More about shingles

Shingles, schmingles

I have a case of shingles AGAIN.  This time it’s on the left side of my head and face, affecting my eye.  I’m on 500 mg of Famvir, three times a day. As my doctor said, it will get worse before it gets better. These pictures don’t really quite do it justice.

More about shingles on this blog.

What is shingles? There’s a really good explanation of shingles here on Wikipedia.

Shingles on my face

More shingles

Shingles affect my eyelid

zoster, shingles, varicella

IMF Says 90% overall response with new Relvlimd® combination (BiRD)

This is a press release  from the  International Myeloma Foundation.

I was on Revlimid with high dose dex for some time back in 2005, I think. I remember being miserable on the high doses of steroids and that my MM progressed after I cut back.  We figured the Revlimid didn’t work for me. But that doesn’t mean that it might not work if I added Biaxin.  It’s one more thing I can try when I have to start treatment again. The thought of having to take steroids again kind of causes a feeling of anxiety.

­–BiRD Study (Biaxin®-Revlimid-Dexamethasone) Provides Evidence of Deep Complete Response Rates In Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma–

North Hollywood, CA, January 4, 2008 – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)—supporting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians—today said updated data from the Phase II BiRD study provide a new option for newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma whether or not they proceed to stem cell transplant. The findings show a superb overall response rate of 90.3%. 38.9% of the patients achieved a complete response (using EBMT criteria) and 73.6% achieved a 90% or greater decrease in m-protein levels. Using the new International Myeloma Working Group Criteria—recently developed to better define the magnitude of a complete response by a panel of experts led by Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., chairman and co-founder of the IMF—30.6% of the patients achieved this new stringent complete response* (sCR). The findings have been published in the online version of the journal BLOOD.

The BiRD regimen is made up of REVLIMID® (lenalidomide) plus a low dose of the steroid dexamethasone, and adds Biaxin® (clarithromycin). The BiRD treatment did not impede stem cell transplantation, and demonstrated two-year event-free survival rate of 85.2% for patients who underwent stem cell transplant and 75.2% for those who continued on therapy without transplant. Median event-free survival time was not reached.

In addition to the response criteria, the findings from the BiRD study, like a previous study of REVLIMID with low-dose dexamethasone, show response deepening over time: the average time to partial response was just over six weeks, but average time to complete response was 22 weeks, and stringent complete response was reached at 38 weeks.
"This is an exciting time for the treatment of myeloma," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF. "We now have multiple studies showing improved response and survival with various regimens including REVLIMID/dexamethasone in previously treated and newly diagnosed patients, DOXIL®/VELCADE® for previously-treated patients who want a steroid-free regimen, and thalidomide/melphalan/prednisone in older patients not eligible for transplant."

Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of the bone marrow that affects production of red cells, white cells and stem cells. It affects an estimated 750,000 people worldwide, and in industrialized countries it is being diagnosed in growing numbers and in increasingly younger people.

The data were published in an article by lead author Ruben Niesvizky of the Multiple Myeloma Service, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Weill-Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

* sCR requires complete absence of M-protein by immunofixation, normal free light chain ratio and a negative marrow biopsy by immunohistochemistry.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 165,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses in four key areas: research, education, support and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 120 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF was rated as the number one resource for patients in an independent survey by the Target Research Group. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE, or out of the United States at (818) 487-7455. More information is available at www.myeloma.org.

Media Contact: Stephen Gendel or Jennifer Anderson (212) 918-4650