Managing the Side Effects of Myeloma Treatment

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Topics include: Treatments

Lisa Smith, a nurse practitioner at the Cancer Centers of the Carolinas, joins Andrew to answer questions about how to manage the side effects of myeloma treatments so patients can have the highest quality of life and still fight their cancer aggressively. Ms. Smith gives patients an idea of the side effects to expect from certain therapies in the hopes it will help patients to remain on their cancer medicines. The key for myeloma patients is to have open communication with your doctors about any symptoms you experience because often there is a way to alleviate the effect.

Topics included in the discussion are: How to manage the neuropathy that accompanies certain therapies, such as Velcade; Efforts that can be made to help fight the fatigue and anemia; How to manage pre-existing conditions, like renal problems, when diagnosed; Transplant and maintenance therapies; The role biological ages plays in treatment options; How to manage stomach irritation from Dexamethasone; and Balancing the benefits of biophosphate Zometa against the renal problems and osteoneocrosis of the jaw often caused by long-term use. You’ll also hear about the current recommendations in diagnostic testing.

With so many new treatment options, myeloma patients are living much longer, which means doctors have to shift the way they use certain drugs. It should provide tremendous hope to myeloma patients that doctors are now considering the long-term effects of all these treatments.

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Andrew Schorr:

Hello, and thanks for being with us once again. I am Andrew Schorr broadcasting our special edition program on multiple myeloma from Seattle, Washington, where I am, but we're going to span the country and the world. This is what we're doing in a whole series, and thank you to Millennium for being our sponsor through an unrestricted education grant. This allows us to do programs now. We will be doing another one next month when the big ASH meeting comes up, American Society of Hematology. As a leukemia survivor, I'm very plugged into that related to my cancer, and I know you are related to multiple myeloma. Hopefully you've had a chance to listen to the replays or read the transcripts of our earlier programs, including the one from the big international meeting that was over in Greece.

Well, not only were physicians at the meeting in Greece, but also some nurses and nurse practitioners who are devoted to helping you get the best cancer care for multiple myeloma but also managing the side effects maybe of the older medicines and now the side effects that are presented by the powerful new medicines as well. So, that's what we're going to be discussing today. How you can manage those side effects and limit them so that you can have the highest quality of life and still fight the cancer aggressively so you can have a long life.

So, the International Myeloma Foundation, who has been a great partner of ours in our programs and over many years, they have formed the Nurse Leadership Board, and there are 20 nurses on there, nurse practitioners, who really have a special interest and a devotion to you folks touched by myeloma, and so they actually have been developing guidelines that are proliferating, and the goal of this is to help nurses and other health care providers and physicians around the world understand how multiple myeloma can be managed in the best possible way while limiting the side effects.

So, today, our program is a conversation with Lisa Smith. Lisa has a whole bunch of letters after her name, but she is a nurse practitioner and works in oncology. She is with the Cancer Centers of the Carolinas, and she is based in Greenville, South Carolina. So, Lisa will be taking your questions. I want to give the phone number right now. You can call in with questions. Here's the number. Make sure you've got it; 877-711-5611. Also, there is a form on the web page on that you can just fill in that goes right to our producers and you can ask your question. Now, I do want to say right at the outset, everybody wants to say, Lisa, or if we had a physician on, here's my situation; what should I do? But that wouldn't be fair to you and it wouldn't be fair to our listeners either, so ask your question. Sure, give some of your specifics, but really what we're going to say is, what's the learning here from Lisa that we can all learn from and applies to this sort of situation? So without further ado, Lisa Smith, thank you for joining us for our live webcast today.

Lisa Smith:

Well thank you, Andrew. I'm very pleased to be here, and I want to thank Patient Power and Millennium for sponsoring this program. I think it's a great opportunity to reach out to patients, which is one of the reasons I love the job that I have because as a nurse practitioner that's primarily what I do is manage patient's side effects with multiple malignancies but I have a special interest and see a lot of multiple myeloma patients, so that's one of the reasons that I am here today.

Andrew Schorr:

Well thank you for that. I made a statement at the beginning, as I have done a lot of programs on multiple myeloma, and we have many more coming, so we're blessed with newer medicines, more targeted therapies, and people living longer and living better, but it seems to me as we're learning more about these medicines that there is no free lunch, if you will I guess, with powerful cancer therapy, and we also don't know which patient will develop which side effect at which dosage, I guess, because people react differently. So that's why I would imagine, Lisa, communication with your nurse or your nurse practitioner is really critical.

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