Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma team
Members of the University of Chicago Medicine multiple myeloma team include: first row, seated, l to r: Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, Jean Ridgeway, NP, Cara Rosenbaum, MD, Stephanie Barath, CRA, and Todd Zimmerman, MD. Second row, l to r: Marian Heaven BSN, RN, OCN, Maria Gamez BSN, RN, Craig Draayer, CRA, Sean Maxwell, BS, MA, Rebecca Malloy, RN, BSN, Kathryn McDonnell, MMPC, and Inga Krueger LLB, LLM, MA, CCRP

There is new hope for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells (a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow). While multiple myeloma is considered a chronic and incurable condition, advances in scientific research are bringing innovative and exciting treatments to people who have newly diagnosed, relapsed or refractory disease. More and more people are attaining lengthy remissions and are surviving for many years.

CBS2 multiple myeloma feature Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, and multiple myeloma patient Andrea Rosengarden were featured in a CBS2 Chicago news story about new multiple myeloma drugs that give patients more options to combat the blood cancer.

“There is no question that the efforts of the myeloma community in the last decade have dramatically improved outcomes and changed the natural history of this disease,” said Andrzej J. Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, director of the myeloma program at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. “While the advances are, in part, related to high- dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant support, they are mostly attributed to the introduction and availability of new drugs.”

Comprehensive Care for Multiple Myeloma

At the University of Chicago Medicine campus, the hematologists/oncologists on our multiple myeloma team are nationally known experts in the treatment of this disease. As lead investigators and co-investigators on numerous national clinical trials, these same physicians are actively involved in the discovery and design of new and innovative therapeutic advances.

Gail Jarrett-Black and Todd Zimmerman, MD After being treated for multiple myeloma with radiation, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, Gail Jarrett-Black, left, participated in a clinical trial of a medication to improve long-term survival. Oncologist Todd Zimmerman, MD, right, says the drug has been very effective in suppressing myeloma cells.

Our treatment team provides a personalized approach for the care of patients with multiple myeloma. It is our goal to control disease growth, achieve remission and help our patients live a good quality of life. We also offer comprehensive support services to help our patients manage their multiple myeloma symptoms and the side effects that may occur as a result of therapy.

Treatment for multiple myeloma is often complex and may involve a combination of therapies. We provide the full range of treatment options – tailored to each patient -- including traditional and emerging therapies:

  • Chemotherapy with novel drugs thalidomide, lenalidomide and bortezomib -- a class of drugs that change the environment around malignant cells, preventing them from growing and reproducing. Different combinations of these medicines with each other and with more traditional chemotherapeutic agents are often considered and very effective.
  • Autologous stem cell transplantation -- a conventional approach and now a safer, more effective therapy
  • Clinical trials of new drugs -- the newest generation of therapies, similar to bortezomib (Velcade), thalidomide and lenalidomide, but designed to be better tolerated and more powerful. Drugs such as carfilzomib, pomalidomide, elotuzumab and others are able to overcome resistance seen in the already approved drugs.
  • Targeted therapy – the most recent advancement in multiple myeloma treatment, targeted therapies detect and attack cancer cells without damaging normal cells
  • Supportive care – chemotherapy, radiation and other therapies may be recommended to slow bone loss and treat bone pain

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