Multiple Myeloma: Patients gaining more support as researchers learn more about demographic factors

Multiple Myeloma: Income, education affect multiple myeloma survival rates

Every year, more than 13,000 patients die from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects cells in the bone marrow.

As researchers work to develop new treatments for the incurable disease, they’re finding more about how non-health related demographic factors affect survival rates for multiple myeloma patients.

Reuters reports that new research shows that both household income and education levels have a greater impact on patient’s survival than race or ethnicity. Those findings contradict earlier research which claimed “worse cancer survival odds for people of color.”

“Race or ethnicity is mostly a marker for social factors such as poverty, insurance status, education level, etc. which is why we see that ethnic minority individuals experience worse health and health outcomes,” Roshan Bastani, director of cancer disparities research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, told Reuters via email. “It is not that race or ethnicity does not influence survival. Rather, the effect of race or ethnicity on survival is mostly explained by the negative social factors that are more common among racial and ethnic minority groups.”

European multiple myeloma patients could gain access to new treatment

Back in June, we first shared word of promising results presented at the 2016 ASCO Conference. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Phase III CASTOR study of daratumumab showed positive results as a treatment for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

Now, daratumumab, which was granted a Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July, is seeking an expanded patient scope from the European Medicines Agency.

“Daratumumab represents a new hope for people suffering from multiple myeloma, a disease which is presently incurable,”  said Jan van de Winkel, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Genmab. “We look forward to working together with Janssen and the EMA to making daratumumab available to a far wider group of patients.”

Patient Spotlight: Charleston Area Multiple Myeloma Network Group

Many patients with multiple myeloma find it difficult to find a support group that understands their unique challenges.

Enter the Charleston Area Multiple Myeloma Network Group — a patient support group created for survivors and caregivers, as well as families and friends of patients.

“When I moved to Charleston, I couldn’t find a group here,” Carol Cunningham, the group’s co-founder, recently told The Post and Courier. “And it’s such an important thing to have when you’re dealing with issues like this.”

She adds, “It’s important to talk about these types of things as well as provide that emotional support for people who are going through something like this.”

Helpful resources for patients with Multiple Myeloma

CancerCare.org offers helpful tips and resources for patients with multiple myeloma.

  • Financial Assistance for Patients with Multiple Myeloma: Numerous organizations provide financial assistance, including help with medical billing, insurance coverage, and reimbursement issues. Two helpful places to start are the Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.
  • Transportation Services: In addition to local charities and county governments, national cancer organizations provide transportation services for patients. CancerCare’s Door to Door program offers grants to help multiple myeloma patients with transportation costs such as gasoline, taxi service, and public transportation fare to and from medical appointments. The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program provides transportation to and from cancer centers for patients and their families.
  • Housing and Lodging Assistance: The Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society and National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses are just two non-profits that provide temporary lodging for patients’ families. The best place to start: Joe’s House, a national online database with lodging info on a cancer treatment center near you.

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