Tag Archive for: bone marrow transplant

Does CLL Research Show Potential for a Cure?

Does CLL Research Show Potential for a Cure? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Could chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) research potentially bring a cure for patients? Dr. Danielle Brander shares her perspective about the future of CLL care, functional cure, and cure-like condition.

Dr. Danielle Brander is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies & Cellular Therapy at Duke University Medical Center. Learn more about Dr. Danielle Brander.

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See More from START HERE CLL

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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Prognosis and Treatment Factors

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Prognosis and Treatment Factors

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research and EVOLVE Trial Updates

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research and EVOLVE Trial Updates

Common Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Symptoms and Follow-Up Tests

Common Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Symptoms and Follow-Up Tests


Transcript:

Lisa Hatfield:

So as a cancer patient, one of the biggest questions I had when I was diagnosed, you hear the word “cancer” or in this case “CLL leukemia.” Two questions. One of them, is there a cure for CLL? And if not, are there any trials looking at a cure for CLL?

Dr. Danielle Brander:

Yes. Excellent. An understandable question. Traditionally, we say that CLL or others slower-growing, or sometimes you’ll hear the term indolent lymphomas, do tend to be slower-growing.  Some patients don’t need treatment. But the flip side of that is we generally think of them as not curable, that they’re a chronic condition and that treatment, the goal of treatment is to knock it down and relieve whatever symptoms or indications or reasons your starting treatment are.

But at some level, we historically think of CLL as either eventually coming back or sticking around, so to speak. However, I think most oncologists, most those in the field, feel that some of the treatments that are around or in combination, that we’re going to have some patients that have maybe what a term might be functional cure or individual, cure-like condition.

Meaning if our newer treatments for some patients can knock down the CLL so much that it either doesn’t come back or take so long to even show itself again, in a way that serves as what the purpose of cure, really is, which is to get it down to levels that it’s not causing problems or not coming back, for the lifetime of the patient.

Bone marrow transplant is the only therapy historically that has been cured, has offered a cure for some patients. The downside and the reason that most patients aren’t referred to for bone marrow transplant is the risk side of it. Meaning, unfortunately, a bone marrow or stem cell transplant has such a high risk of directly causing side effects.

That could be life-limiting or chronic side effects from the transplant itself versus the agents available now that we aren’t using or referring to bone marrow transplant nearly as much, but I think it’s really encouraging what we’re seeing in responses. So we talked already about those main categories of BTK inhibitors or venetoclax, I didn’t yet talk about, but there are many trials that have looked at those in combination, or CAR T, for example, or bispecific antibodies that are knocking down the CLL to such low levels. But the hope is that serves as a way of functional cure. But it’s going to take time to see if that’s the case. But we’re all very encouraged and really believe that that’s on the horizon.


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Becoming an Empowered and [ACT]IVATED MPN Patient

Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) is committed to efforts to educate and empower patients and care partners in the myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) community. MPN treatment options are ever-increasing with research advancements in treatments and testing, and it’s essential for patients and families to educate themselves with health literacy tools and resources on the latest information in MPN care. With this goal in mind, PEN kicked off the [ACT]IVATED MPN program, which aims to inform, empower, and engage patients to stay abreast of up-to-date information in myeloproliferative neoplasm care.

The [ACT]IVATED MPN program is aimed at newly diagnosed MPN patients, yet it can help patients at any stage of disease. [ACT]IVATED MPN helps patients and care partners stay updated on the latest options for their MPN, provides patient activation tools to help overcome care disparities and barriers to accessing care, and powerful tips for self-advocacy, coping, and living well with  a blood cancer.

MPN Expert

Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Disparities

Race or ethnicity may have an impact on some health conditions, including MPNs. Cancer patient Lisa Hatfield interviewed Dr. Idoroenyi Amanam, Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology at City of Hope. He explained about MPN risks and outcomes that may be impacted by patient race or ethnicity. “…we know that if you have high blood pressure, you have a higher risk for these complications-associated MPNs. And we know that African American males have a higher risk for that, so I think those things are…that example is a clear indicator that really identifying these basic risk factors that are related to diet, exercise, your weight, and other behavioral, possibly behavior-related factors may put you at higher risk to have complications from MPNs.”

 

Dr. Amanam further shared research findings and what needs further study to draw conclusions. “We have looked at incidences of thrombotic events in patients who have MPNs, and we tried to see if there was a difference between racial groups, and we didn’t. We did see that if you’re younger, you do have a higher risk of thrombosis over time, but there was no difference for if you were white, Hispanic, or African American. What we did find though, in a small single center study is that if you are non-white, there’s a higher risk of death over time. And I think we still need a lot of work to get a better understanding as to why that’s the case.”

Dr. Amanam Background

Solutions for Improved Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Care

Clinical trials are key in moving MPN research forward to improved treatments and care. Dr. Amanam shared his perspective about other players besides patients who can help move the needle forward. “I think that going back to the idea that we want to practice the best science, we want to be able to publish the best data. The responsibility is on the clinicians, the scientists, the clinical trialists, the drug companies, the institutions to really be able to structure clinical trials that are relevant to our real world experience. And so how can we better encourage that? I think from a government perspective, potentially incentivizing drug companies and institutions and the other major players that really are involved in pushing this field forward to practice better science.

Dr. Amanam expanded on how clinical trials can be diversified. “And once we’re clear that being able to have a diverse participant pool will give us the best results and therefore will lead to your drug being approved. I think we will have more participants from all groups.

Some underrepresented patient communities may experience obstacles to MPN care. MPN Nurse Practitioner Natasha Johnson from Moffitt Cancer Center provided advice to help patients. “Patients themselves can research clinical trials by looking at clinicaltrials.gov and see what’s out there and contact the academic center that’s performing those trials. There’s free information online that provides recorded sessions from conferences or speakers or speaking done by the MPN experts that you can just look to and get to easily to help understand the disease, knowing the symptoms, and then guiding treatment.” Natasha Johnson continued with additional advice for optimal care. “.…to try to get into a large cancer center or academic center and see an MPN expert. Many times, this is just by self-referral. Charity is sometimes provided through these. Zoom visits can be done as consults or follow-up visits. So my encouragement would be search these out, find out who the experts are, and contact them directly and see if there is any possibility or a way that you can get in to see an MPN expert for a consult so you can get the best care possible.” 

Signs of MPN disease progression is something that patients and providers must be on the lookout for. Natasha Johnson shared her advice for patients to empower themselves against disease progression. “…monitor your blood cell counts, be your own advocate. Think about if they’re changing, could it be medication, or is it disease progression? Monitor your symptoms. Look at the total symptoms score or write down your symptoms and try to record where you’re at in intervals. Are things getting worse? If they are, don’t wait three months for your next appointment. Contact your healthcare provider and ask to be seen. Ask about getting a repeat bone marrow biopsy to establish where the current disease status is because that can open up doors possibly to more treatments.”

The future of MPN care has an additional approach to address. Dr. Amanam shared his perspective and how patients can help advocate for improved treatments. “I think in the next three to five years, we’re going to have drugs that are going to actually be able to treat the underlying disease before it gets to a point where you may need more aggressive therapy…And so it’s exciting where we’re going, and I think the questions that as a patient that I would ask are, because of the fact that we only have few FDA-approved therapies, are there any clinical trials that are able to target the underlying disease as opposed to just treating the symptoms? I think that’s very important for the patients to ask, especially in this space now.

Rates for stem cell transplant approvals must improve for lower income groups and for African American and Hispanic groups to provide better health outcomes for blood cancers like MPNs. Dr.  Amanam explained what’s involved with transplants and how others can help as donors. “You can donate your bone marrow, or you can donate your stem cells that are not inside of your bone marrow. And typically as a donor, your experience of actually donating is about a day. And the recovery time after you donate your bone marrow or stem cells, it’s typically within about one to three days.  So the benefit of donating your stem cells or bone marrow outweighs the inconvenience of a day or a couple of days of your schedule being altered. So I think that’s really important to understand. And I think if we can get more people to be aware of this, I think we can definitely get more donors.

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[ACT]IVATED MPN Program Resources

The [ACT]IVATED MPN program series takes a three-part approach to inform, empower, and engage both the overall MPN community and patient groups who experience health disparities. The series includes the following resources:

Though there are myeloproliferative neoplasm disparities, patients and care partners can take action to empower themselves to help ensure optimal care. We hope you can take advantage of these valuable resources to aid in your MPN care for yourself or for your loved one.

What Does the Future of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Care Look Like?

What Does the Future of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Care Look Like? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What does the future of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) care look like for patients? Expert Dr. Idoroenyi Amanam from City of Hope explains how MPN treatments have changed in recent decades, symptoms that are relieved with treatments, and how treatments of the future may help patients.

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See More From [ACT]IVATED MPN

Related Resources:

Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Basics for Newly Diagnosed Patients

Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Basics for Newly Diagnosed Patients

Are There Disparities in Stem Cell Transplant Outcomes

Are There Disparities in Stem Cell Transplant Outcomes?

Are There Any MPN Disparities in Subtypes and Genetics

Are There Any MPN Disparities in Subtypes and Genetics?

Transcript:

Lisa Hatfield:

Dr. Amanam, what promising treatments are available for newly diagnosed MPN patients, and what questions should patients be asking? They come into your office scared to death and not even knowing what to ask. Do you have any suggestions for what those patients should be asking when they go in as a newly diagnosed patient?

Dr. Indoroenyi Amanam:

Right, right. Twenty years ago, we really didn’t have any therapies for most MPN patients, aside from performing phlebotomy and using non-specific therapies to try to help control their counts and therefore reduce their risk of clotting and stroke. We are getting to a point which is really exciting, where we actually are treating the underlying disease, meaning that the cells that are causing this cancer, we have been able to identify targets that will help eradicate those cells and, therefore, get rid of the cancer. And so we’re getting there. Unfortunately, we still are not there yet, and so when we look at the FDA-approved drugs in this space, really, they help control symptoms, they help control some of the associated complications with the disease, mainly when your spleen’s enlarged, and that potentially may affect your quality of life, mainly your nutritional status and your physical status, and so we do have drugs that are able to do that, that are FDA-approved right now.

I think in the next three to five years, we’re going to have drugs that are going to actually be able to treat the underlying disease before it gets to a point where you may need more aggressive therapy. Currently, the only defined curative therapy that we have, when I say defined, meaning that we have multiple studies that have shown that that’s the case, is bone marrow transplant. I’m a bone marrow transplanter, I do treat some of my MPN patients with bone marrow transplant to get rid of the underlying…those underlying cells that are driving this disease. But that’s a very intense therapy and it has its own associated complications. But we are…will be having other drugs that potentially we would be able to offer that are not as intense as bone marrow transplant.

And those include immunotherapy, other drugs that can target the signals that drive these cells to divide and multiply. Also there are within the bone marrow for patients that have myelofibrosis, which is one of the MPNs, we will be able to target the environment that allows for these cells to persist and grow. And so it’s exciting where we’re going, and I think the questions that as a patient that I would ask are, because of the fact that we only have few FDA-approved therapies, are there any clinical trials that are able to target the underlying disease as opposed to just treating the symptoms? I think that’s very important for the patients to ask, especially in this space now.


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[ACT]IVATED MPN Resource Guide en español

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Spanish Activated MPN Resource Guide

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[ACT]IVATED MPN Resource Guide

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Expert Perspective | Key Advice for AML Patients

Expert Perspective | Key Advice for AML Patients from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Facing an AML diagnosis can feel overwhelming. Dr. Omer Jamy shares tips for newly diagnosed AML patients, emphasizing the importance of a consultation with a specialist.

Dr. Omer Jamy is a Leukemia and Bone Marrow Transplant Physician and Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Learn more about Dr. Omer Jamy.

See More from Thrive AML

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Updates in AML Treatment and Research From ASCO 2023

What Are the Phases of AML Therapy


Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

Dr. Jamy, for patients who have been diagnosed with AML, could you share three key pieces of advice for them. How can they be proactive in their care? 

Dr. Omer Jamy:

Sure. So, I feel like as a leukemia physician I would like to see, just to give you an example, I’d like to see all the leukemia patients in Alabama. But that’s not feasible, right? But what I would recommend to patients and caregivers is that wherever they are diagnosed, I do feel that they would benefit from a consultation with a leukemia physician at a tertiary care center or an academic center. And they would benefit due to various reasons, right? So, the first reason would be that as a leukemia physician my job is to just keep myself upgraded with leukemia care, leukemia management.  

So, one aspect of leukemia is therapeutics, right? So, drugs that are approved, easy to give. But the other aspect is understanding the biology of the disease, understanding how leukemia is going to behave. To get a better profile for AML for a patient. So, in a way saying that not all AML cases are the same. So, to be seen at a center would help the physician understand the unique cytogenetic or molecular profile of that patient’s AML which may be different from the next patient’s AML which could mean that the treatment algorithm for one person might be slightly different from the second person. So, I mean the academic and the people working at academic centers cannot survive without people working in the community, so it goes hand in hand. So, I feel like co-management of a patient with AML is extremely important. I feel like things will not get missed that way.  

I feel like the treatment plan, no matter where it is implemented, would really benefit the patient. It can be implemented closer to home as long as it’s been co-managed with someone closer to home as well as someone at the center where they have access to more information. What this would also help is get the person and the family plugged into a system where, let’s say if therapy wasn’t working, they’d have access to enroll on clinical trials down the line as well. Which unfortunately are only present at academic centers and not very widely available, especially for blood cancers. There may be trials for solid tumors easily conducted outside of academic centers, but unfortunately that’s not the case for blood cancers, specifically AML. So, the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials will also help.  

And then lastly, I feel like it’s our ability to offer bone marrow transplant to older patients has improved over the past 10 to 15 years.  

We’ve become better in identifying donors and in identifying patients, getting them ready for transplant that I feel that a person and the caregiver should inquire from their physician about the opportunity – oh, of No. 1 the need for transplant for the leukemia is because not all the AML patients may benefit from our transplant, but most of them do. And definitely anyone who relapses would benefit from a stem cell transplant.  

So, I feel like inquiring about that is very important because to get plugged in at a transplant center early on is important because you don’t want to waste time early on. You may not need the transplant, but just having the consultation and just having a preliminary donor search ongoing in the background is really helpful because when the time comes that a person needs the transplant, then you’ve already got some of that information ready, and you can proceed quickly. So, I feel like a few of those things might be helpful which I try to educate in the community as well and do outreach.  

Because I feel like it’s important to let people know that AML is an aggressive disease. Transplant is pretty intense, but we are now making it more and more tolerable for older patients. 

How Can CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partners Find Support?

How Can CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partners Find Support? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Where can CAR T-cell therapy care partners access support? Expert Sarah Meissner and Adrienne, a care partner, discuss resources and share self-care advice for those caring for a loved one.

Sarah Meissner, RN, BSN, BMTCN, is a Blood and Marrow Transplant and Related Donor Search Coordinator at the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute. Adrienne is a Care Partner to her husband, who underwent CAR T-cell therapy.

See More from The Care Partner Toolkit: CAR T-Cell Therapy

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How Can CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partners Maintain Their Own Self Care

How Can CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partners Maintain Their Own Self-Care?

How Can a Social Worker Help CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partners

How Can a Social Worker Help CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partners?

Are You a CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partner_ Why You Should Ask for Help

Are You a CAR T-Cell Therapy Care Partner? Why You Should Ask for Help

Transcript:

Katherine:

Sarah, this is, obviously, a very taxing experience for everyone, the patient and care partner. Where can care partners find support during this time looking outside family members and relatives nearby? What other resources are available? 

Sarah Meissner:

Absolutely. I would encourage people to work with their local psychosocial team first. There may be support groups within the program that they’re receiving treatment at that could be helpful or, like Adrienne talked about, other patients or caregivers who have gone through this that they can be connected with.  

There is also some great support resources through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They do have caregiver support. They have patient support, connections with patients, and that kind of stuff. So, that is another good place to look as well as the different manufacturing groups that make these CAR T cells do have patient support groups as well. So, maybe some more information, maybe some caregiver resources. They’re all a little bit different but that would be another good place to look. 

Katherine:

Adrienne, did you find any resources that you would recommend? 

Adrienne:

Well, I used, and not on particularly CAR T cell but I do have one in there, but Facebook does have closed groups that you can join. 

I did this for his bone marrow transplant. And I do get a lot of support on that particular one. It’s for spouses and caregivers in particular. So, look for that and there is one on CAR T cell but for multiple myeloma. But at the time, it was very new so there wasn’t a lot of back and forth on there. But you can really connect with people, and, of course, it’s not a substitute for any kind of medical advice. But it is nice to talk to people that are going through the same thing, especially with his bone marrow transplant. There were other caregivers that were, actually, doing it at the same time. So, that was kind of like a reassuring thing to have this little group of people that we knew were all doing it at the same time.  

Katherine:

Yeah. That’s great support. Sarah, how can care partners make sure they’re taking care of themselves? What can they be doing? 

Sarah Meissner:

I think it’s hard going through this process. The focus is so much on the patient and what they’re going through. And caregivers often forget that they have needs, too. So, taking the time to look within and recognize when you’re feeling stressed and maybe you need some support. Reaching out to friends and family is a great thing if you have that option. If you have the option to have somebody come in and hang out with the patient for a period of time, so you can go to a work out class or you can just go grab some groceries or go do something for yourself and have a few minutes that you’re not having to worry about watching the patient can be really a great thing for people. 

Sometimes, if patients don’t have other support, caregivers will take the time that the patient is in clinic and being watched by the care team to maybe go run a quick errand or do something. And that’s definitely an option as well.  

Katherine:

Adrienne, we talked about this, but do you have any advice for care partners as they begin the process? 

Adrienne:

Yes. I would just say that it’s only temporary and that the first two weeks is really intense, but it definitely gets better. And just to keep your eyes peeled on all of those little things that might not be right, because it’s really important to get them back into clinic if they need it and to take a little time for yourself.  

Katherine:

Yeah. Well, before we end the program, I’d like to get final thoughts from both of you. What message do you want to leave care partners with? Adrienne, let’s start with you. You may have already answered this question just a moment ago. 

Adrienne:

The message that I think that we would like to give, my husband, too, is that this is a lot of work, but he has had a very successful remission. And it’s very promising, and we’re excited to have a long future with this. It’s much better than having chemo every week. 

And it’s improved his quality of life. So, I think that as a caregiver, it’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth the work, because the end result, hopefully, will be life-changing. 

Katherine:

Yeah. Sarah, do you have anything to add? What information would you like to leave care partners with? 

Sarah Meissner:

Yeah. The care partners are such a crucial part of this process. Without them, we can’t provide this treatment. So, it’s a very important role, and we are very thankful that you are willing to do this for your loved one so that we can give them this treatment and, hopefully, get them into remission and have great results from that. So, make sure that you take the time that you need to be able to be there for your loved one and, again, just thank you for being willing to do this. 

Expert Advice | Shining a Light on Equitable AML Care

Expert Advice | Shining a Light on Equitable AML Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

While treatment options are improving, there are still many factors impacting equitable care for AML patients. Dr. Ann-Kathrin Eisfeld shares advice for improving research and clinical trials for underserved AML populations.

Dr. Ann-Kathrin Eisfeld is Director of the Clara D. Bloomfield Center for Leukemia Outcomes Research at The Ohio State University and a member of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James. Learn more about Dr. Eisfeld.

See More From INSIST! AML

Related Resources:

Advances in AML Research _ Where Do Clinical Trials Fit In

Advances in AML Research: Where Do Clinical Trials Fit In?

What Is the Purpose of AML Genetic Testing

What is the Purpose of AML Genetic Testing?

How Does the Presence of Molecular Markers Affect AML Care

How Does the Presence of Molecular Testing Affect AML Care?

Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

Dr. Eisfeld, we’ve covered a lot of information related to AML care. As a researcher, what other topics are currently top of mind for you in the field of AML? What are you passionate about? 

Dr. Eisfeld:

Again, so many parts. I think there are probably three main things that I’d like to name. And I think about it as a little bit outside the box. Most of what we know about AML, we have become so much better. It’s because we have been studying patients who were treated over the past decades on clinical trials and very often here in the U.S. or in Europe.  

But all clinical trials have a bias in that most of them have been done A) on patients who are younger than the age of 60. And B) fewer patients of other races and ethnicities included. And had patients not included that have AML, for example, not only in the bone marrow but on extramedullary sites – how we call it – up to 10 percent of their patients. And also, very often have not been done on very old patients where the AML is very common. So, all the patients – patients from other race, ethnicities, or underrepresented minorities, and patients who present with extramedullary disease are currently in my – underserved.  

And these are exciting areas and opportunities of research and of active clinical practice. Because those are the patients we need to include if it’s possible now to include them in clinical trials. 

If there are no trials available, then make sure any other additional molecular testing it done to understand them better and to advance our disease knowledge that we make sure that we can give the best possible care.  

I think that the most important part is to get the molecular testing, and to enroll into clinical trials, and then to very often biobanking 

Why am I saying that is because our knowledge AML comes from patients who donated some tissue so that we could learn – researchers decades ago could learn about the genes. We know that leukemias differ so much in between patients.  

So, I am worried that we are yet missing out on potentially important genes that need to be discovered and where we could develop docs for. This will only be possible with these additional testing. 

 The second part is to really consider going to larger treatment and larger treatment cancer center. And there are support systems in case that can help in here.  

And the third part is to get involved even as early as possible even if you’re not personally affected, with Be The Match – with bone marrow transplant because there’s a paucity of donors, of people of color that makes it harder for these patients to get a potentially curative treatment in here.  

We have other options now in bone marrow transplant where one can use only half-matching donors and or other availabilities. But again, that doesn’t outweigh that the bone marrow and donor registry that we need to get better at.  

And I can – there are just so many factors – such a high degree of structural racism that affects people from every corner. And I think we as physicians, as society, and everybody need to acknowledge that. And we have to make sure that we get better to, again, give every patient the best care and keep the patient in mind and see what’s right for them at the right moment.    

Katherine Banwell:

Where can patients or people who are interested find out about being a donor? 

Dr. Eisfeld:

There is the website called “Be the Match” that one can put in. This is probably the best way to get first information.  

And usually, at all the cancer sites. And sometimes, there is information at lab donation places, universities, either or the American Red Cross. Usually those places have information laid out there as well. 

Advances in Myeloma Treatment | CAR T-Cell Therapy and Bispecific Antibodies

Advances in Myeloma Treatment | CAR T-Cell Therapy and Bispecific Antibodies from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How are new treatments impacting the landscape of myeloma care? Dr. Francesca Cottini explains the role of bispecific antibody therapy and CAR T-cell therapy and how these emerging therapies are changing myeloma care.

Dr. Francesca Cottini is Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Learn more about Dr. Cottini.

Download Resource Guide

See More From INSIST! Myeloma

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How Close Is Personalized Medicine for Myeloma?

How Close Is Personalized Medicine for Myeloma?

Making Treatment Decisions: Understanding Common Myeloma Therapies

Making Treatment Decisions | Understanding Common Myeloma Therapies


Transcript:

Katherine:

Dr. Cottini, I’m wondering if you could briefly go over CAR T-cell therapy and bispecific antibodies. 

Dr. Cottini:

Yes, of course. So, these are all our new therapeutic approaches for patients. And these are types of treatments that are given to patients that already went through their induction, they went into remission, maybe they had a bone marrow transplant.  

And then, after a couple of years or months, unfortunately, the disease came back, and they need the new and different treatment options. So, these two strategies, CAR T and bispecific antibodies, really rely on the T-cells, on the immune cells of the patient. 

And they all focus and target a specific marker on the plasma cells, but they work a little bit differently. So, the bispecific antibodies – and we have different antibodies.  

Some are approved by the FDA, some are just in clinical trials. They practically recognize something that is on the plasma cells, on the myeloma cells, that can be BCMA, GPRC5D, or other targets. So, at the same time that I am able to get close by the T cells, the immune cells, and in this way, practically there is both the antibodies and also the immune cells which is activating and getting rid of the cancer cells. 

So, these are infusions. Often, they’re done initially in the hospital and then in the outpatient setting. Sometimes it’s even every week, every other week or so.  

CAR T are different strategies, and it’s a very smart way of trying to get rid of the cancer cells. So, practically, these are T cells.  

So, these are immune cells from you, from the patient. And they are practically taken and then brought to a very specific and clean facilities where these T cells are modified in order to be able to recognize the cancer cells. 

And then these cancer cells are sent back to us, and then practically they are given into the veins to patient, and then there is this kind of reaction of these T cells, which are very peppy and aggressive to be able to kill all the remaining cancer cells. So, these are all the new strategies. 

Obviously, we are kind of like in the early process, but these are very promising therapies I think we’ll be maybe moved up front even with diagnosis in the next 10, 20 years, we don’t know.  

30-Year Acute Myeloid Leukemia Survivor Shares His Journey

30-Year Acute Myeloid Leukemia Survivor Shares His Journey from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What might acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients experience for symptoms, treatment, and coping with AML? AML patient and Empowerment Lead Art Flatau shares the experience of his AML journey from diagnosis, through treatment and AML survival, and advancements in AML treatments.

Art also shares his empowerment advice for patients and care partners to ensure optimal care and how he has found a sense of purpose in patient advocacy efforts.

See More from [ACT]IVATED AML

Related Resources:

Empowered AML Patient: Ask the AML Expert

Empowered AML Patient: Ask the AML Expert 

How an AML Survivor’s Resilience Saved Her Life

How an AML Survivor’s Resilience Saved Her Life 

Advice for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients Seeking a Clinical Trial

Advice for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients Seeking a Clinical Trial 


Transcript:

My name is Art, and I live in Austin, Texas. In 1992, I was 31 and married with two young children. I was in graduate school and working full-time. For a couple weeks, I had been feeling tired and had been running a low-grade fever. I also had a lot of bruises, probably because I was playing rugby at the time. I thought the fatigue was because I was overworked and getting  too little sleep.

On Saturday, I had a rugby game but was too tired to play more than a few minutes. The next day, I was too tired to do much. My wife and I decided that I would go to the doctor on Monday. 

Monday morning, I woke, and there was blood on my pillow as my gums were bleeding. My wife wanted to take me to the ER, but I convinced her to just call our doctor. I went to the doctor later that morning. She noted my symptoms, did a quick exam, and sent me for blood work. After lunch, she called and said I needed to go to the hospital and see a hematologist. I knew I was in trouble.

We talked to the doctor and he said, “We have to see what kind of leukemia you have.” What a shock.  I knew that I was sick with something I had not had before. The fact that it was cancer was a shock. I didn’t know that there were different types of leukemia but soon found out that I had acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

That evening, I received platelets and red blood transfusions. The next morning, I had a bone marrow biopsy, more platelets, and surgery to put in a central line. That afternoon, less than 24 hours after hearing the word leukemia in reference to me, I started chemotherapy. This was all overwhelming. We had no way to understand what our options were or to get a second opinion.

Three-and-a-half weeks later, I got out of the hospital with no hair, 25 pounds lighter, a lot weaker but alive. I had more chemotherapy in the next few weeks and more hospitalizations. A few months later, I was finished with chemo. I regained some strength, regrew my hair, and tried to get my life back to normal.

In early 1993, about 9 months after being diagnosed, we got another shock, I had relapsed. I needed to have a bone marrow transplant. Although we had a little time, a few days to figure out where to go for a transplant, we were again struggling to understand the process. We were also struggling to figure out how to move to Dallas for three more months for the transplant. The transplant was a long grind, a month or so in the hospital, a couple of months of going to the outpatient clinic two to three times a week, but we made it through. 

Now, 30 years later, I’m still around. My children graduated from high school, college, and graduate school and have successful careers. My wife and I are empty-nesters.  I am still working but hoping to retire in a few years. Although I consider myself very lucky to have survived and have had relatively few side effects, I do have some side effects to deal with, including low testosterone.

Some things that I’ve learned during my AML journey include: 

  • AML is a rare disease: The good news is that over the last several years a lot of new treatments have been discovered for AML. These new treatments are leading to more people surviving AML. However, these new treatments are evolving rapidly. It is important to find a cancer center and doctors who treat a lot of patients with leukemia. 
  • Consider volunteering: Advocacy work is an excellent way to help yourself and to support other patients and continued research efforts.
  • If something doesn’t feel right with your health, advocate for yourself and ask for further testing.

These actions (for me) are key to staying on my path to empowerment.

Share Your Feedback About [ACT]IVATED AML

What AML Treatment Options Are Available for MRD-Positive Patients?

What AML Treatment Options Are Available for MRD-Positive Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

For acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients who are MRD-positive, what treatment options are available? Dr. Catherine Lai from Penn Medicine discusses MRD-positive concerns. Learn about recent guideline updates for MRD-positive and genetically adverse patients and key questions to ask your care provider. 

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Lai: For genetically adverse risk, it would be to have a conversation about whether or not you should be going to transplant. And for MRD-positive patients, I would say is to ask about how frequently my testing should be done to monitor for MRD, MRD-positive disease.

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See More from [ACT]IVATED AML

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Transcript: 

Art:

Okay, Dr. Lai, what treatment strategies are available for genetically adverse risk patients, as well as measurable residual disease or MRD-positive AML patients?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, so I’ll take those two separately. So for the genetically adverse patients, and so just also as an update in 2020, in the summer of 2022, both the World Health Organization and the European Leukemia Network, they both updated their guidelines. So it’s called WHO 2022 and ELN 2022 in terms of how we help prognostic and risk-stratify our patients.

And so for the ELN 2022, there are a handful of additional mutations that do put patients at adverse risk, and so it would be good just to know to bring up with your physician, which in risk category am I in? 

And so in general, for the adverse risk patients, the long-term goal is bone marrow transplant once in complete remission. And so I would say that the initial treatment hasn’t really changed, but we are recommending more patients for transplant because there are a larger number of patients who are now in that adverse risk category.

For the MRD-positive patients, there are clinical trials that are targeted, are enrolling specifically for MRD-positive patients for the most part, once you’re in complete remission, if you’re MRD-positive, you just would continue on your current therapy. And for some patients who continue their current therapy that MRD, that MRD will eventually go away.

If they are done with therapy, it would be something that you would want to monitor very closely, and at the site at the time at which that that MRD is growing, you would want to consider re-initiating treatment, although that is not standard, so it’s a very tailored and individual discussion with your physician.

So, I say, in general, the activation tips for genetically adverse risk, it would be to have a conversation about whether or not you should be going to transplant. And for MRD-positive patients, I would say is to ask about how frequently my testing should be done to monitor for MRD, MRD-positive disease. 

Share Your Feedback About [ACT]IVATED AML

Tips for Thriving With AML | Setting Treatment Goals

Tips for Thriving With AML | Setting Treatment Goals from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

AML expert Dr. Eytan Stein shares how he defines thriving with AML and emphasizes the importance of setting treatment and care goals with your healthcare team.

Dr. Eytan Stein is a hematologist oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and serves as Director of the Program for Drug Development in Leukemia in Division of Hematologic Malignancies. Learn more about Dr. Stein, here.

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Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

Since this webinar is part of Patient Empowerment Network’s Thrive series, I thought we could start by getting your opinion on what you think it means to thrive with AML. 

Dr. Eytan Stein:

Yeah, so thriving with AML I think can mean different things to different people. Thriving with AML can mean when you have the disease, really having the fortitude to get through the treatment that you’re being given because sometimes that can be tough.  

And sometimes, it’s not easy. But the people who are thriving are the ones who are able to discuss with their doctors what their treatment is, what the side effects of that treatment might be, how to minimize those side effects, and how to get through that treatment so that not only do they feel better physically but can feel better emotionally and ultimately, hopefully go into a complete remission. 

Katherine Banwell:

Thank you for that, Dr. Stein. I think that helps guide us as we continue this conversation. Getting appropriate AML care is part of thriving, and when we consider treatment options, it’s important to understand the goal of treatment. So, how would you define treatment goals for patients? 

Dr. Eytan Stein:

Yeah, so the treatment goals for patients really come in different forms. I think fundamentally what everyone wants is everyone wants to go into a complete remission and be cured of their disease. And certainly, that’s an overarching goal that we aim to achieve with our treatments. But there are other goals that I think are important too to various patient populations, depending on what stage of life they’re in.  

Are they 85 years old or 90 years old and have lived a long, full life? And their goal might be to improve their blood count so they don’t need transfusions so frequently. And they might be able to go to that grandchild or great-grandchild’s wedding or other life event. There are other patients for whom the goal might be, very discreetly, just to get to that next step in their treatment.  

That next step in their treatment might be a bone marrow transplant.  

The next step in their treatment might be some more therapy. But I think overall as a doctor, our goal is always to do our best to get our patients into a complete remission and cure them while maintaining the best quality of life for our patients. 

Katherine Banwell:

What do you think is the patient’s role in setting treatment goals? 

Dr. Eytan Stein:

Well, it’s really important for the doctor to explore the goals of treatment when they first meet with the patient. I don’t think doctors should assume that all patients come into that first visit with the same goals. And what those goals are, I think, may differ a little bit from patient to patient. And it’s really important for the patient to express overtly what their goals are, what they want to achieve from the treatment. You know, I have some patients who come in to me and say, “My goal is to be cured and be alive for the next 30 years” or 40 years or 50 years.  

And I have some patients that come into treatment, and they say, “You know what, I have had a very, very long life, and I just want the best quality I can have for as long as I can possibly have it.” 

Empowered AML Patient: Ask the AML Expert

Empowered AML Patient: Ask the AML Expert from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

For acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, how can they get the best care no matter location? Watch as expert Dr. Catherine Lai and AML patient Sasha Tanori discuss advancements in AML detection and treatments, the use of remote monitoring, questions to ask if you suspect you have AML, how AML can vary by age, and clinical trials access for optimal care.

See More from Best AML Care No Matter Where You Live

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How an AML Survivor’s Resilience Saved Her Life 


Transcript:

Sasha Tanori:

I want to start off by saying, thank you so much for joining me, Dr. Lai, I greatly appreciate it.

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Thank you for having me.

Sasha Tanori:

Dr. Lai, early on before my diagnosis, AML, many of my doctors I saw dismissed my symptoms and attributed them to me being plus-sized. Can you share with us how detecting AML has evolved over the last several years?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yes, and I’m sorry to hear that, but what I would say about the diagnosis is that how we diagnose patients with AML, unfortunately, hasn’t changed significantly in the sense that we still have to rely on our standard techniques with the bone marrow biopsy. But what I would say is that the technology for how we risk-stratify patients and subsequently treat patients has improved because we have a better understanding of the molecular characteristics of AML now, and so it has helped us in terms of being able to identify more targeted treatments, where patients are more likely to respond and help us with both our short-term and our long-term plan.

Sasha Tanori:

Right, got it. My next question is, can you speak on how monitoring and treating AML has changed during the pandemic?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, so unfortunately, as you experience it, you spent your induction in the hospital for several weeks, and when you’re able to be in the hospital with support, either from friends or from family, it makes the experience much, much easier and with COVID, especially at the height of the pandemic, we weren’t allowed our hospital. And I know several of my colleagues as well, the hospitals weren’t allowing any visitors and that put a lot of stress on the patient, on family members, on the staff, the nurses, the physicians, really the whole care team. Just because we were needing to spend extra time to make sure that everybody was updated, so either if we couldn’t do it on FaceTime, having to make sure other phone calls later, which is just…it is what it is. And we made the best of the situation. Currently, we are allowing to have a limited visitor policy, which is helpful. I think the other thing that has really changed is what we consider when we’re starting treatment, if patients obviously need induction chemotherapy and need to be in the hospital, we don’t change the recommendation based on that, but if there are patients who…

Dr. Catherine Lai:

There are options whether or not the patient is done inpatient versus outpatient, I think that that’s a huge consideration in terms of quality of life and how we manage those patients.

Sasha Tanori:

Can you speak to the advances and treatment options for high-risk AML patients?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yes, so fortunately, we have made a lot of progress in the AML space, that is one thing that is really exciting, I would say. Since 2017, there have been nine FDA approvals for AML, and prior to 2017, and we have been using the same chemotherapy for the last 40 years. Now, that’s not for lack of trying. There are many leukemia physicians who have been working at this for the duration of their careers, but AML just is very heterogeneous, and it’s very smart. It’s smarter than we are, and it’s constantly changing, and so that has made it challenging in terms of being able to treat it. So, there are newer treatment options, both modifications to traditional chemotherapy as well as other targeted therapies that have improved the landscape for AML and high-risk AML in particular. That’s awesome.

Sasha Tanori:

Dr. Lai, I think another factor that played a role in my diagnosis is somewhat being delayed is my age, I was 24 at the time, what are some questions others who suspect they have AML should ask to rule out the diagnosis?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

So, Sasha, that’s a really good question. And what I would say is that, as you are aware, the median age of AML diagnosis is 68, so not to say that we don’t have young patients…I have plenty of young patients, but it doesn’t come to…it’s not a common thing to think about in younger patients right off the bat, the other thing that contributes to that is also AML compared to other cancers is an uncommon cancer. There are only 25,000 cases of newly diagnosed in the United States per year because it’s not as common in younger patients and because it’s not that common…doctors often want to rule out other simple things rather than just going straight to a cancer diagnosis though, unfortunately, that can lead to some delays, what I would say in young patients who are healthy is that they shouldn’t have low blood counts that can’t be explained for other reasons. So, I think having prompt attention in terms of if their blood counts are abnormal, to really understanding why they’re abnormal, and those are things that can be easily work up, and if all those things are rolled out, then you’re talking about doing a bone marrow biopsy I don’t like to do procedures for unnecessary reasons, but it’s one of those things that you can also…

I mean, I think if you have a physician who is the astute and is thinking about that, that you can…you can get to a diagnosis pretty quickly, I mean AML is a diagnosis in the name acute. It comes on acutely, so that means days to week, so I suspect you are probably feeling very well and over a very short prior of time felt very unwell, and you’re very in tune to your body, and that is very important because patients are smarter than we give them credit for, and so being persistent and knowing that something is wrong goes a long way. Again, I’m sorry that you had to deal with that, and I’m glad that they finally made the right diagnosis, but I think just awareness and education. While it is an uncommon disease, I think having a larger burden and strain that happen on younger patients because you haven’t been working for the majority of your life, and it takes a huge toll on what your potential is, both as a person, but economically and all sorts of things. So it’s a huge problem

Sasha Tanori:

Does prognosis of AML vary by age?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

So, yes and no. So let me answer that in two steps, so it does in the sense that older patients are more likely to have more comorbidities, so more medical problems, and so therefore have a higher likelihood of having complications, and also as patients get older, they acquire more mutations and more abnormality, so those molecular abnormalities, and so therefore, older patients then are become more challenging to treat as well. What I would say though, is that we typically risk-stratify based on molecular factors, so the different mutation than somebody has and the age and the comorbidities don’t necessarily play into that role of stratification, so for example, whether or not you’re receiving a transplant or not…age is a factor, if you’re kind of in that little risk category, the intermediate risk category, the other thing I would say is that for young patients, they are able to tolerate because many don’t have medical problems, so they are able to tolerate treatment better, so when I’m talking about numbers and likelihood of response and overall survival, those…all those mediums assume that somebody is in their mid-60s, and so I adjust the numbers because for younger patients that those numbers are likely higher…

Because they’re less likely to have complications.

Sasha Tanori:

Right. I had many medical professionals that participated early on in my care. Can you speak on the role of the multidisciplinary care team that plays in AML care?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, this is…this is an excellent question. I would say that treating leukemia is a team sport, everybody has their role, and it’s not just one person, and this is part of why I love treating leukemia patients, is that we’re able to engage multiple players, everybody is good at their particular thing, and so one analogy is that…we’re kind of like a baseball team, is that you want everybody to be able to do their own…have their own position. What a standard for our center is that we have the leukemia physician, there’s a specific leukemia nurse, we engage our social worker very early on, and also our cancer nutritionists and physical therapist and occupational therapist so we all work together at different parts of the treatment journey to make sure the patient is getting everything that they need and the whole person is being taken care of.

Sasha Tanori:

Right. AML patients, just like anyone else, want to live and live a very long time. Are AML patients at risk for secondary cancers, and are there any studies that speak on this?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, so I would say everything has its risk and benefits at the time of diagnosis, you need the chemotherapy in order to get into remission, and then if you need the transplant, whether or not you’re getting radiation and then further some chemotherapy before the transplant, so that’s not without risks, so especially in a young patient, for example, in your particular case, you’re at risk for secondary treatment-related MDS and other bone marrow-related disorders that could occur, most patients who are in their 60s who, if they live long enough would be at risk, but most of those patients will die of something else before you have that opportunity. As a young patient, the other thing to be aware of, especially with, given that you’ve had transplant, is that the increased risk of cardiovascular effects, as well as making sure in patients who have had your whole-body radiation, other effects in terms of their thyroid, lung function, and then screening earlier for other cancers. So in terms of looking at studies, we know that these risks are slightly increased and that monitoring starts a lot sooner, especially in young patients. So I think just being aware of what you need to do.

Dr. Catherine Lai:

We also have a survivorship clinic, which I think is really important to help understand, you know what your risks are, because once your leukemia is in remission, we don’t want you to develop other medical problems, so it’s important just for patients to be educated so that they know how to take care of their body at each stage of their…again, of their journey.

Sasha Tanori:

Alrighty, after getting a bone marrow transplant three years later, I’m still dealing with graft-versus-host disease or GVHD, but there are other obstacles that I’m also facing. Does GVHD ever truly go away or is it something that I’m going to have to learn to live with?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, I wish I had a magic answer for you. Our data is that it gives us guidance for each patient, but then also each patient as an individual and how they respond to different medications, and the nuances of that is…it can be different. So what I would say is that there are patients who you have chronic GVHD for years and it can eventually go away, and in some patients, they deal with it for a lifetime, you’re young enough, and I’m hopeful enough that at some point it will improve and get better. So I would be cautiously optimistic that things will improve.

Sasha Tanori:

I’m…I’m trying my best.

Dr. Catherine Lai:

It’s hard.

Sasha Tanori:

Yes, it’s very hard. Yeah, my care team suggested a clinical trial for a new drug focusing on improving my lung function, fortunately, my lungs improved on their own. Dr. Lai, not every AML patient is offered clinical trial as a care option, what advice you have for AML patients who are seeking clinical trial and what’s the best way to locate one?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, so this is an area, a huge area of unmet need, I would say in general, across all oncology trials, and I think less than 10  percent of the patient population is on trials, there’s a lot of stigmas around clinical trials and are you getting… Are you getting a drug that we don’t know what’s gonna work, am I being…am I being tested? In oncology, I would say for the most part, we try to make trials where you’re being measured to the standard, so you’re getting the standard plus, or we’re trying not to…just in terms of doing what’s best for the patient, in general, I don’t offer trials to patients where I don’t think that there’s scientifically a rationale for those drugs, but to answer your question, the best place to look is on clinicaltrials.gov. That’s cumbersome. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, I can give you a lot of unnecessary information. There are a lot of other resources out there, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a great resource. I know that they have online or people that you can talk to in terms of helping you direct specific clinical trials, I know depending on where you live in the country, there are other local New Chapters, oncology chapters that we have that can help patients find…

And have access to clinical trials, and then I think the biggest thing is just if a patient is with the community oncologist, having enough education to say, can I have a referral to an academic institution where they can ask those questions and get that information, and local community oncologists are fantastic, but they see everything, they see breast cancer, they see one cancer where the academic centers were specialized where all I see is leukemia and MDS kind of acute leukemias. So it’s just a different set of knowledge.

Sasha Tanori:

Okay, my next question is, I’ve had one telemedicine visit via my online portal, is the role of the telemedicine in AML care becoming more important?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yes, so what I would say…so this is my personal opinion, but in my opinion, that medicine compared to other industries tends to be a little bit farther behind, we’re not as quick to adapt the newest technology where COVID has helped, I think is at least in my practices, help utilize telehealth in the sense that there was a period of time where I was seeing fewer patients and then it really picked up because especially for patients who have a local oncologist but want a second opinion, the telehealth really offers that they don’t have to travel two hours to come see me to get that opinion. So what I would say is that it cannot replace the physical exam, it can’t replace a face-to-face discussion when you’re really talking about new diagnosis and therapy, because I really do think that that should be in person, but where… I have found that it’s been really helpful is if I’ve had an initial visit with the patient, and they either have a local oncologist, so I’m just checking in with them periodically, or if it’s to review results, say they’ve had a bone marrow biopsy and it’s…

They’re further along in their treatment, or if they’re just reviewing imaging results or something where I don’t necessarily need to see them have a physical exam and I’ve seen them recently, and so I do everything else that’s going on, but can I check in to review a specific part of information. I think that telehealth would have a role, and I hope it continues to have a role.

Sasha Tanori:

Yeah, yeah definitely, I agree. It’s really helpful in that sort of way, so you don’t have to actually leave the comfort of her home for something that’s not really super serious. You know?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Exactly, yeah, I think what happens is patients do tend to…what I’ve noticed patients do is under-report, so it’s for… Not for infrequent visits, so for patients who are followed on a regular basis, it does allow there to be some ease of burden in terms of how we treat our patients.

Sasha Tanori:

Right. So a silent side effect that people facing cancer don’t always talk about is mental health. Are there any treatments or coping methods that you recommend for patients and care partners?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, so I would say to get social work involved early on, I think there’s also…it’s silent, ’cause there’s a lot of stigma around it, is that is something that we should be talking about or not talking about or…I can handle it, that sort of thing, so I introduce our social worker very early to know that she is a resource for the patients, no matter how big or how small, just to try to get them used to that idea. What I would also say is just talking with as many people as possible as I’m sure you realize that the network and the community is small and everybody is willing to help each other out, so once you put yourself out there, you’ll realize that there are other resources out there, and you’re not alone in this journey, and what your cancer team offers you is different than what other patients who have gone through exactly what you’ve gone through can offer, and so I know that there are other resources out there in terms of societies that connect other patients who have the same diagnosis, so I would say it’s really just about education and talking and knowing that it’s okay to talk about your diagnosis and no matter what format that is, or if it’s a little bit now and a little bit later, and also just normalizing it, in the sense of the feelings you have are valid and normal, and if you don’t have those feelings is actually when I get worried about patients because you’re supposed to have certain reactions, you were a young patient and you were diagnosed with cancer.

That’s not a trivial thing. And we’re just…we’re all here to help you and help the patients go through everything…

Sasha Tanori:

So for my last question is the future bright in AML treatment and can you speak about any exciting studies that you are working on, that AML patients and their families should stay tuned for?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yes, so I am excited. I am excited to say that I think in my lifetime, I will be a part of AML change and we have already seen it. I have mentors who are in their 60s, who have used the same therapies, they use them for the entirety of their career. And so as I mentioned, we only have your 9 FDA approvals. I think there are more coming… I think what I would like to mention is I think the use of immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant is the original immunotherapy, but as you know, there are many risks and benefits and complications, and so how we manipulate the immune system or how we use drugs to help manipulate the immune system, I think it’s a work in progress. It has been more successful in other cancers, not as successful in AML yet, but I think we will get there. The other thing would be, is how… We look at minimal residual disease. So, as you know, but for everybody else, we consider a complete remission is less than anything less than 5 percent blast or 5 percent leukemia cells but we know that anything greater than zero is bad, and you have more than zero, the disease will come back at some point.

So looking to how we monitor, going back to those molecular technologies and how we’re monitoring for residual disease so that we can detect disease faster, so I think really the concept of detection and prevention will come into a huge role because also if we can detect the disease relapse sooner, we’re treating less disease and then there’s less side effects and less toxicity, and then I think the last thing would be health outcomes of a lot of what we’ve been talking about just in terms of the whole picture and how we can better treat these patients I also think there’s a huge role for looking at each individual person and their age and their medical problems, and they’re a physiologic age as opposed to their chronological age and how we can best treat the patient so they can have the best outcome.

Sasha Tanori:

All right, well, thank you so much, Dr. Lai, for taking the time to speak with me and for all you’ve done for the AML community and our patient’s families, everyone.

Dr. Catherine Lai:
Thank you, thank you so much for having me. I’ve really appreciated you putting yourself out there… Thank you.

What Treatments Are on the Horizon for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients?

What Treatments Are on the Horizon for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What can acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients expect in the future of AML studies? Watch as expert Dr. Catherine Lai shares insight about the state of FDA approvals. what is in pipeline for AML treatment, and disease monitoring technologies for improved patient care.

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Are Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients at Risk for Secondary Cancers?

Are Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients at Risk for Secondary Cancers? 


Transcript:

Sasha Tanori:

Is the future bright in AML treatment, and can you speak about any exciting studies that you are working on, that AML patients and their families should stay tuned for?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yes, so I am excited. I am excited to say that I think in my lifetime, I will be a part of AML change and we have already seen it. I have mentors who are in their 60s, who have used the same therapies, they use them for the entirety of their career. And so, as I mentioned, we only have your nine FDA approvals. I think there are more coming…I think what I would like to mention is I think the use of immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant is the original immunotherapy, but as you know, there are many risks and benefits and complications. And so how we manipulate the immune system or how we use drugs to help manipulate the immune system, I think it’s a work in progress. It has been more successful in other cancers, not as successful in AML yet, but I think we will get there. The other thing would be, is how…we look at minimal residual disease. So, as you know, but for everybody else, we consider a complete remission is less than anything less than 5 percent blast or 5 percent leukemia cells but we know that anything greater than zero is bad, and you have more than zero, the disease will come back at some point.

So looking to how we monitor, going back to those molecular technologies and how we’re monitoring for residual disease so that we can detect disease faster, so I think really the concept of detection and prevention will come into a huge role because also if we can detect the disease relapse sooner, we’re treating less disease and then there’s less side effects and less toxicity, and then I think the last thing would be health outcomes of a lot of what we’ve been talking about just in terms of the whole picture and how we can better treat these patients I also think there’s a huge role for looking at each individual person and their age and their medical problems, and they’re a physiologic age as opposed to their chronological age and how we can best treat the patient so they can have the best outcome.

Does GVHD Ever Resolve in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients?

Does GVHD Ever Resolve in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

With acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, graft-versus-host disease can manifest after bone marrow transplant. Watch as expert Dr. Catherine Lai explains how GVHD can vary by patient and what younger AML patients might expect for GVHD improvement over time.

See More from Best AML Care No Matter Where You Live

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What Role Does Telemedicine Play in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Care?

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Transcript:

Sasha Tanori:

After getting a bone marrow transplant three years later, I’m still dealing with graft-versus-host disease or GVHD, but there are other obstacles that I’m also facing. Does GVHD ever truly go away or is it something that I’m going to have to learn to live with?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, I wish I had a magic answer for you. Our data is that it gives us guidance for each patient, but then also each patient as an individual and how they respond to different medications, and the nuances of that is…it can be different. So what I would say is that there are patients who you have chronic GVHD for years, and it can eventually go away. And in some patients, they deal with it for a lifetime, you’re young enough, and I’m hopeful enough that at some point it will improve and get better. So I would be cautiously optimistic that things will improve.