Getting the right treatment starts with understanding your diagnosis.
If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple myeloma—a cancer of the plasma cell, which is a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow—it’s important that you understand your diagnosis completely.
“It is a really complicated disease,” says Adriana Rossi, MD, associate clinical director of the Myeloma Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. “Most physicians have a hard time understanding what [myeloma is].”
For that reason, it’s also important to find the right myeloma treatment center and the right doctor so you can get your questions answered accurately. “Multiple myeloma is still considered a rare disease, so I think it’s important to at least seek an option at a center that sees a lot of myeloma patients,” says Dr. Rossi. Here are more important steps to take after receiving a multiple myeloma diagnosis.
When you’ve found the right doctor, bring a list of questions to your appointment. “Usually the moment you sit in a doctor’s office, all your questions disappear,” says Dr. Rossi. “Bring a family member with you. Two pairs of ears are always better than one.”
Sample questions to ask your doctor include:
What kind of myeloma do I have?
What stage is the myeloma?
What symptoms can I expect?
What’s your recommended treatment plan and why?
What side effects can I expect?
How can I avoid complications?
When you ask your questions, write down the answers, and repeat them back to your doctor. “I think as physicians we think we’ve done a good job of explaining, but until you really understand it, we haven’t done our job,” says Dr. Rossi. “So ask questions until it makes sense to you.”
During your treatment, be sure to keep your doctor in the loop about side effects, and don’t be afraid to ask more questions. It’s very important to have good communication with your doctor, especially during the first cycle of a treatment plan, says Dr. Rossi. “[If] a treatment either stops working or has side effects that the patient finds intolerable, that’s a reason for us to find a new line of therapy,” she says.
“If we don’t know [that] you’re having a symptom or you’re having a hard time with a medication, we can’t do anything about it,” says Dr. Rossi. “Often there are different options for treatment.”
Adriana Rossi, MD, is the Associate Clinical Director of the Myeloma Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.
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Myeloma is still considered
a rare disease, so
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I think it's important that
you understand the diagnosis.
00:00:06,430 --> 00:00:09,500
Most physicians have a hard time
understanding what is myeloma.
00:00:09,500 --> 00:00:13,428
It is a really complicated disease and
bring your questions because usually,
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the moment you sit in a doctor's
office all your questions disappear.
00:00:17,008 --> 00:00:23,374
00:00:23,374 --> 00:00:27,290
Many times I think as physicians, we think
we've done a good job of explaining but
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until you really understand it,
we haven't done our job.
00:00:30,580 --> 00:00:33,620
So ask questions until
it makes sense to you.
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Find out what kind of myeloma you have.
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What are the expected
symptoms from the disease.
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What's the planned treatment and why?
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Given that we have so
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many options, why does the doctor think
this one is better than the next?
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What are the expected side effects and
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is there anything that you need to be
doing to avoid getting into trouble?
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Also as far as supportive care,
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there are many time that
patients may need transfusions.
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We regularly use
bone-strengthening drugs as well.
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We use immunoglobulins to
support the immune system.
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We sometimes use certain antiviral or
antimicrobial drugs to prevent infections.
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Preventing is always better than treating.
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So knowing what to get into is always
helpful I think before you start.
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And again, being in this continuous
evolving conversation where should
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a treatment either stop working or
have side effects that the patient finds
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intolerable, that's a reason for
us to find a new line of therapy.
00:01:34,562 --> 00:01:44,562
Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma) Treatment–Patient Version. National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on June 26, 2019 at https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq)
Patient education: Multiple myeloma symptoms, diagnosis, and staging (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. (Accessed on June 26, 2019 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/multiple-myeloma-symptoms-diagnosis-and-staging-beyond-the-basics)
Multiple myeloma treatment (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. (Accessed on June 26, 2019 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/multiple-myeloma-treatment-beyond-the-basics)
What Is Multiple Myeloma? American Cancer Society. (Accessed on June 26, 2019 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/about/what-is-multiple-myeloma.html)