First off you go to a doctor for a broken bone, bone pain, constant and reoccurring illness, anemia, or the many other symptoms that are an offshoot of your myleoma. This doctor will find you have high calcium in your blood, kidney dysfunction, bone lesions, high blood protein levels or some other marker that will result in having you see an oncologist. The oncologist does a bone marrow biopsy and maybe a light chain test and confirms multiple myeloma. This is where many people make their first mistake and leave their treatment in the hands of the oncologist who identified their disease. They may recommend a treatment plan, but this is where a myeloma patient needs to follow the five important steps to improved myeloma survival.
This is where the 5 steps to your successful myeloma journey begins.
1) Become your own best advocate and educate yourself about this disease. Given that there isn't a consensus about how to treat this disease, patients must unfortunately educate themselves about their treatment options. For a summary of how to do this CLICK HERE!
2) Choose a MULTIPLE MYELOMA SPECIALIST to lead your treatment plan. This is a MUST HAVE. Myeloma specialists show a survival rate 2 to 4 times greater than the national average. There is a continuum of treatment philosophies to choose, and they go from "Less is Best" to "More is Cure". A list of multiple myeloma specialists can be found if you CLICK HERE!
3) Find out if you have high risk or low risk disease. This is done by either a FISH test or a 70 gene array. Low risk patients (85% of patients) have a disease that is easier to treat, and high risk (15% of patients) has half the life expectancy of the low risk type. It would therefore require a facility well versed in high risk myeloma, and also one that is heavily into clinical trials. Clinical trials often focus on high risk disease, and you will be more likely to get into these trials if the facility you are treated at participates. You can find out more about high risk disease if you CLICK HERE.
4) People with myeloma seldom die from myeloma but rather from complications from myeloma. Pneumonia, infection, anemia, and internal bleeding are just some of these complications. Therefore, a treatment center that has a focus on supportive care is crucial to your survival. For more information on this subject CLICK HERE.
5) Continue your myeloma education by becoming a member of an IMF or LLS Support group. Support group members learn more about this disease, and knowledge is life. Anecdotal evidence suggests a longer life expectancy from active membership in a support group. For more information on this CLICK HERE.
For more information on multiple myeloma survival rates and life expectancy go to the web site www.myelomasurvival.com, or you can follow me on my twitter account at: https://twitter.com/grpetersen1