According to a story from Healio, a recent study has determined that older patients with multiple myeloma, a rare cancer that affects plasma cells, routinely under-utilize supportive care resources as recommended by treatment guidelines for the disease. The study authors suggest several possible explanations for this such as factors related to both treatment facilities and the patients themselves.
About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma, which is occasionally referred to as plasma cell myeloma, is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells. These are white blood cells that produce antibodies. The overall cause of multiple myeloma is not well understood, however, some risk factors have been identified. These include obesity, family history, smoldering myeloma, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. These last two conditions have the potential to develop into multiple myeloma. Symptoms of this cancer include bone pain, infections, anemia, kidney failure, overly thick blood, confusion, fatigue, headaches, and amyloidosis. Treatment includes chemo, stem cell transplant, and other medications for relapsed disease, which is common. Five year survival rate is 49 percent in the US. To learn more about multiple myeloma, click here.
Supportive Care and Cancer
In the rush to development the next breakthrough cancer therapy and improve patient survival, research related to supportive care is often overlooked. However, multiple myeloma patients, and cancer patients as a whole, are surviving longer than in the past. Therefore, studies that focus on the improvement of patient quality of life and morbidity are still critical.
About The Study
The researchers looked at data from 1,996 adult patients that were 66 years or older; this data was taken from the SEER-Medicare database. These patients were diagnosed between 2008 and 2013, had received treatment, and were alive at least a year after being diagnosed.
The patients looked at three examples of supportive care for multiple myeloma: bone-modifying drugs (BMDs), prophylactic antiviral medications, and flu vaccination. The researchers found that 64, 49, and 52 percent of the patients in the study has received these therapies, respectively. A number of factors were associated with a decreased likelihood of receiving these supportive interventions, such as geographic region, African-American racial ancestry, higher comorbidity burden, and lower neighborhood education level.
The study revealed significant disparities in treatment on lines of race as well as geographic region, with different areas having different tendencies. The authors hope that these findings will serve as a wake up call to cancer centers that are dealing with older multiple myeloma patients to held them mend gaps in treatment.
Check out the original study here.