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Doctor Explains Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis and Next Steps

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Published on October 12, 2020

What Are the Next Steps After a Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis?

What is multiple myeloma? What do I do if I have just been diagnosed? Is there a cure? When do people typically start treatment? What should my next steps be? If you have just received a multiple myeloma diagnosis, are close to someone who has, or are looking for trustworthy information on multiple myeloma, many of these questions may be running through your mind.

Dr. Krina Patel, Assistant Professor in the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is here to answer the most common questions regarding a multiple myeloma diagnosis and starting your treatment journey. She says that above all, finding the right team for your care is the most important thing.

Transcript | Doctor Explains Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis and Next Steps

Dr. Patel: I know it's hard to hear that you have cancer, and most people don't know what multiple myeloma is when they've been diagnosed with it. And I can't imagine what it's like to start Googling and saying it's a blood cancer. What does that mean?

My big message here is that this is a very treatable disease. Yes, it's not curable yet. There are a lot of us working on that through research and I hope one day, very, very soon we will be able to cure at least some patients. But until then, you have to know that research is ongoing for multiple myeloma especially.

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer. Basically, means that it originates the bone marrow. Plasma cells normally help make proteins called immunoglobulins. Those are just antibodies. And I know a lot of people have heard about antibodies recently, but antibodies are one mechanism by which our bodies can fight infections and plasma cells start getting changes, what we call genetic changes, in the cells, they start becoming clonal, meaning that it's the same cell dividing again and again. And that's the definition of cancer.

What Are the Next Steps After Diagnosis? 

Sometimes it's scary to not know what to do next and you just got diagnosed with cancer and you just want to go ahead and start treatment so you can take care of it all. But the biggest, most important thing you can do is finding that right team first. Yes, of course, if there's a medical emergency and someone has to treat something, we need to get that done. But after that, when you have a little bit more time, I think it's really important that you look around and talk to different doctors and different places and get those second opinions. Second opinions are really big.

I can imagine what it's like to hear all of this all at once that your life has completely changed. However, we will help you through it. And you have to take it one day at a time. You have all of these people that - you are not going to meet everybody - but there is a huge group of not just physicians and researchers, but patients. I mean, patient advocacy groups are phenomenal in multiple myeloma and things like this with Patient Power. I can't tell you how many of my patients have come to clinic and said, "You know, I've watched your video 20 times now."

In our clinic visits, we have 15 minutes sometimes, so we don't get to talk about everything that we want, but resources like these really do help you hear. Sometimes people don't hear what I'm saying in clinic, because you're just thinking cancer, cancer, cancer. And I can understand that. But when you finally come to a little bit more calmness, coming to these types of resources to help you navigate all of this is really important and to know that we're all here for you.

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