Dr. Rajkumar a multiple myeloma specialist at Mayo Clinic, recently wrote an excellent article in the Myeloma Beacon that put in patient friendly terms the difficulty of determining the life expectancy of any individual. However, his explanation really centers on just how complex this disease is and the need for someone with the skill of a myeloma specialist.The link: http://www.myelomabeacon.com/news/2012/03/01/understanding-prognosis-in-multiple-myeloma/ If you read many of the clinical trials, or just listen to doctors discuss multiple myeloma, you will soon find your head spinning. And this is if you are not in the initial “Good Lord Why Me?” phase of the disease, when we are all in a fog. A recent article by Pat Killingworth(a myeloma advocate) discusses why you should get a second opinion from a myeloma specialist as a requirement to ensure the best results.The link:http://www.myelomabeacon.com/headline/2012/03/05/pats-place-why-should-a-multiple-myeloma-patient-get-a-second-opinion/
This summary does however leave out one key point that can not be overlooked. This point is that the data indicates that the myeloma specialist now shows a significant survival advantage over the averages that are provided by the National Cancer Institute(SEER). Over the last 10 years the National Cancer Institute has published a 3 year survival that has gone from 45.8% to 55.6%, or a 20% improvement. The Mayo Clinic, Rochester publishes its current 3 year survival rate at close to 90% or a 97 % improvement over the National Cancer Institutes 3 year rate of 45.8%. Dr Berenson, a specialist in LA, publishes a 5 year rate of close to 90%, and UAMS has a 5 year rate of 74%. In the last several years new drugs and clinical trials have helped to increase the chances of a longer life, however, this information must not be filtering down to the local oncologist or the National Cancer Institute numbers would show greater improvement. When this author was diagnosed with multiple myeloma some 6 years ago, I searched the internet and found the hospital that listed the best life expectancy and the result so far has been nearly 6 years in CR(complete response). So in summary, follow the numbers, and find the best specialist near you or nationally that can ensure you get the best most up to date care which will result in the best chance for your long term survival.