Tag Archive for: back pain

What Are the Beginning Stages of Multiple Myeloma (MM)?

What Are the Beginning Stages of Multiple Myeloma (MM)? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What happens in early stages of multiple myeloma? Watch as early multiple myeloma is explained as expert Dr. Rafael Fonseca details what occurs in the body, and patient Lisa Hatfield shares the symptoms that she experienced early in her myeloma journey.

Download Guide

Descargar Guía

See More from START HERE Myeloma

Related Resources:

What is Multiple Myeloma (MM)

What is Multiple Myeloma (MM)?

Where Should I START Following My Myeloma Diagnosis

What is Smoldering Myeloma


Dr. Rafael Fonseca:

These cells live predominantly inside the bones in the space we call the bone marrow. They can do a number of things that actually lead to the symptoms and to the clinical presentation. As they grow in the bone marrow, they take some of that real estate. A person may experience fatigue and that is because they have anemia. The myeloma cells are also very characteristic because they can erode into the structure of bones, so destruction of bone is another feature that we see in patients with myeloma. That can be either seen on X-rays or sometimes people will present with symptoms related to bone pain or discomfort with movement or weight bearing. Those are signs that we look for.

Lisa Hatfield:

For me, early on with myeloma, I really had none of the classic symptoms. All  of my blood work was coming back normal. I would see my regular primary care physician every two years. My lab work was coming back normal. Nothing really stood out. I wasn’t anemic. My kidney function was okay. What did stand out over the course of two years was I was experiencing progressively worsening pain in my hip. It felt like kind of a pinched kink pain in my hip to the point where it progressed to the point where I could barely walk was when I finally talked to my primary care doctor. And requested very strongly to have a scan done, and that’s when I was diagnosed with myeloma.

So the primary reason I went in was for the pain to begin with, and my doctor did look at the pain. He tried to assess it several times over the course of two years. But it wasn’t until I had the MRI that showed a large plasmacytoma on my spine when I realized that something was wrong. A couple other signs that I did have looking back now that I complained about to my doctor and I thought were rather curious, I shrunk a little bit. I shrunk in height. My daughters were laughing, and they’re like “Mom, we’re just growing.” But I did shrink in height by about 2-1/2 inches from the compression fractures in my spine and the plasmacytoma that had eaten away at my spine. And then another thing that a lot of people don’t talk about is sometimes people will have foamy urine. We don’t like to talk about body functions.

But it’s important to know that if you experience that, there are proteins that they can find that  are called Bence Jones proteins that are a sign of multiple myeloma. So if you notice anything unique like that – foamy urine, extreme fatigue, anemia in your blood tests,  it’s definitely worth asking your doctor about. And also relentless, persistent pain in your hips, in your back, in your ribs, any of those areas, it’s worth talking to your doctor about just to assess those thoroughly to make sure there’s not something more significant going on.

If myeloma  goes undiagnosed and untreated, the cancer cells can make a patient experience:

  • Lowered immune function due to white cells being crowded out, resulting in frequent infections
  • High levels of protein in the urine and  blood, which may cause kidney damage
  • Build-up of cancer cells in the bones, which can cause bone weakening, bone pain, and bone fractures

Exciting Advances in Waldenström Macroglobulinemia (WM) Treatment

Exciting Advances in Waldenström Macroglobulinemia (WM) Treatment from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What new therapies are on the horizon for patients with Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM)? Dr. Shayna Sarosiek from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reviews promising developments in WM treatment, including immunotherapy and BTK inhibitors.

 Dr. Shayna Sarosiek is a hematologist and oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where she cares for Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) patients at the Bing Center for Waldenstrom’s. Dr. Sarsosiek is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Learn more about Dr. Sarosiek, here.

See More From The Pro-Active Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

Emerging Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Treatment Approaches

Emerging Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Treatment Approaches 

What Are the Treatment Goals for Waldenström Macroglobulinemia?

What Are the Treatment Goals for Waldenström Macroglobulinemia? 

Current Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Treatment Approaches

Current Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Treatment Approaches 



What are you excited about when it comes to Waldenstrom’s research? 

Dr. Sarosiek:

So, there a couple of things that I find really exciting right now. One thing in particular is currently for treatment for Waldenstrom’s, we often use BTK inhibitors. So, the group of medications that includes zanubrutinib (Brukinsa), ibrutinib (Imbruvica), acalabrutinib (Calquence). And that class of medications has really revolutionized treatment for Waldenstrom’s. But sometimes patients become resistant to those medications. And there’s a new group in that same class of what’s called BTK inhibitors.  

And those are non-covalent BTK inhibitors. And those drugs actually work often for patients who progress on initial therapy with ibrutinib or zanubrutinib. So that really, I think is game changing. There are some early Non-Covalent BTK inhibitors that are in trials. And I really think it’s going to lead to use of those medications very commonly in the future for Waldenstrom’s. So, that I think is exciting to have a next oral therapy to go to after progression on the current therapies. I’m also excited about new combinations that are being tried in Waldenstrom’s.  

So, using combinations of different oral therapies together that would offer deep responses and also offer a time-limited therapy. Because right now many of our treatments are given indefinitely. And so, offering a limited therapy. So, I think that, and there are many other things I could go on for a long time about this. But there are many things that I think are really exciting and we’re going to be changing the field in the coming years. 


Dr. Sarosiek, what is immunotherapy? Could you define that and also, how does it work to treat Waldenstrom’s? 

Dr. Sarosiek:

So, immunotherapy includes many different types of medications. But these are all medications that either use the patient’s immune system or use something from the immune system, like an antibody to help fight off a cancer. And this plays a huge role currently and I think it will continue to in the future. So, probably the most common immunotherapy that patients are familiar with, with Waldenstrom’s now is rituximab (Rituxan). So, that’s a monoclonal antibody.  

And that’s used in many combinations in Waldenstrom’s and is a very important therapy currently. And that antibody is essentially just goes into where the cancer cells are located and attacks that type of cell.  

But the other immunotherapies that are up and coming – which I think are important for patients to know about – one is CAR-T cell therapy. So, a lot of patients ask me about that. and that’s essentially, a T cell is part of the immune system that every patient has. And what CAR T-cell therapies do is patients can collect from their bloodstream – the physicians can collect T cells and then they modify those T-cells in a way so that they’ll recognized the cancer and attack the cancer.  

And so then, those T cells are given back to the patient and then that T  cell can go and work with the patient’s immune system to destroy the cancer. And that’s been very successful in a lot of other cancers and is being used in Waldenstrom’s now. And I think we’re going to be learning a lot about that and it’s going to be an important part of the future with immunotherapy involved in Waldenstrom’s. Another therapy similar is something called BiTE therapies. So, Bispecific T-cell engagers.  

So, that’s essentially two antibodies together. One antibody kind of pulls in the cancer cell and one antibody pulls in the immune system. So, when that treatment is given to patients it kind of brings the immune system close to the cancer cells. So, your own immune system can help fight off the cancer. So, those are just kind of two of the newer immunotherapies that are up and coming that I think will play an important role in the future in this disease. 


Who is this treatment right for? 

Dr. Sarosiek:

Immunotherapies in general currently we’re using them – currently immunotherapies are being used in patients who have had a relapsed disease. So, they have already had current available therapies, like BTK inhibitors or rituximab. And there are clinical trials that can use CAR-T cell therapy. And there are up and coming trials with BITE therapy. So, right now it’s being used in their relapse setting. But as we learn more about it, it’s possible those we moved earlier on to patients who are earlier in their disease course. 


What kind of side effects should patients be aware of? 

Dr. Sarosiek:

So, the side effects can vary depending on what the therapy is. So, patients who are getting rituximab, the currently available immunotherapy, patients can have infusion reactions. So, as your body is kind of getting used to that monoclonal antibody coming in, you can have a reaction. And in that case, we have to stop the infusion, wait for the side effects to settle down, and then restart.  


What type of side effects would they be? 

Dr. Sarosiek:

So, side effects from rituximab infusions can really vary. In some patients it can be similar to an allergic reaction. So, let’s say itchy throat or a rash or hives. Sometimes it can be pain in the chest or the back or trouble breathing. So, they can really vary. But most of the time, those can – when the infusion is stopped, we can give patients medications like Benadryl or Tylenol to help with symptoms. And then we can restart the Rituximab at a lower rate. And that lower rate allows the patient’s body to kind of get used to the medication and continue on the treatment. So that’s generally the things we watch for with Rituximab. 

Should Prostate Cancer Screening Happen at an Earlier Age for Certain Patient Populations?

Should Prostate Cancer Screening Happen at an Earlier Age for Certain Patient Populations? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

Should prostate cancer screening be done sooner for some men? Expert Dr. Leanne Burnham details screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, how guidelines differ for Black men, and when to advocate for earlier screening.

See More From the Prostate Cancer TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

Related Resources:


What Are Some Hereditary Factors Impacting Prostate Cancer Patients?

Top Tips and Advice for Prostate Cancer Patients and Caregivers Navigating Treatment

How Does Stress Correlate With Your Prostate Cancer Diagnosis?



Dr. Leanne Burnham

In terms of prostate cancer screening, the current recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is that men between the ages of 55 to 69 have a discussion with their physician about whether or not they should be screened. Okay, now the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force base this decision on studies, as I mentioned earlier, in predominantly white men, if you look at American Cancer Society, the recommendation is that African American men are screened at age 45 and African American men who are 40, but have a family history of prostate cancer should be screened at age 40. So the issue is most physicians follow the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation for white men. And so, if you have a family history, or if you’re just 45 and you want to know, do you have prostate cancer, you have the right to ask your physician and let them know. Show them on your phone, American Cancer Society recommends this for me because of my race, because of my family history, and your insurance will cover that. Now, these recommendations for Black men in their 40s are not just for no reason, it’s because we see prostate cancer in men at this age, like I said before, my dad being diagnosed at 50 with a PSA score of 64 means that he was growing prostate cancer in his 40s, and who knows how early in his 40s if that was happening. At City of Hope, we provide free prostate cancer screening in the community, and there’s thousands of men that are eligible to be screened, and what we see is there are men in their 40s that have elevated PSA, and if we can catch that early enough, that’s a game changer for them in terms of the length of their life and the quality of their life that they’ll have moving forward.

So, one thing that we see in the community, and I talk to a lot of men about, is not even just men, people in general, trust their doctor, right, they trust to speak to their physician. If the physician says, “It’s your annual visit, you need to have A, B, and C done.” A lot of the men, they’ll say, “Oh, I went to the doctor, I had everything done,” and we really have to let them know your doctor may not have included that with everything else. Yes, you’ve got your blood pressure checked, your blood sugar, and they checked your weight and all this, but go through your record, and a lot of these records are electronically available in apps now and see. Just look at your app and see, did they test for PSA? And if they didn’t and you’re 45 and you’re African American or you’re 40 and you have family members, then that’s something you can shoot your doctor an email and request and just say, “You know, I’m concerned about this, and I would really like to have this test done based on American Cancer Society’s recommendations.” And what we see a lot of times too in the community, is men will say, “Well, I feel fine.”

Well, what you need to understand about prostate cancer is, men do not have symptoms unfortunately until it is beyond early stages is how it works, and so as men get older, the prostate enlarges, whether or not they have prostate cancer or not, and it causes a frequency in urination especially at nighttime. So, if you have a frequency in urination, it will occur as you get older, that’s something you need to let your doctor know. It may not be prostate cancer, so don’t freak out, but it very well may be other symptoms as prostate cancer progresses include back pain, sometimes sexual dysfunction, things like that start to occur, and back pain can be anything. So that’s why it’s important to get your PSA tested even if you don’t have symptoms, because I can tell you that, my dad did not have any symptoms with a PSA of 64, and the only reason I found that was on accident in an emergency room, he went to the ER after having a colonoscopy. And my dad never got sick for anything that he didn’t even understand what physical discomfort means, and he had a colonoscopy, and you know, when you get a colonoscopy, they tell you afterwards, you may have some gas pain, he never had gas pain. So, he didn’t know when his stomach was hurting so bad afterwards, he just thought, this is not okay, this is not okay, he goes to emergency room, they say, Listen, sir, it’s just gas from your colonoscopy, by the way, we ran your blood work, your PSA is extremely elevated. He found out on accident. Who knows how much longer that would have been growing after that, and so I say all that to say, do not expect, do not wait for symptoms to come, and that Black men do get prostate cancer young and that you wanna catch it early because then you have a 100 percent cure rate when you catch it early, so it just makes the most sense to stay on top of it.