Tag Archive for: myeloma progression

What is Smoldering Myeloma?

What is Smoldering Myeloma? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What occurs during smoldering myeloma? Watch as myeloma expert Dr. Irene Ghobrial explains smoldering myeloma and progression, and patient and Empowerment Lead Lisa Hatfield shares her perspective of learning from smoldering myeloma patients.

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What is Multiple Myeloma (MM)

What is Multiple Myeloma (MM)?

How is Multiple Myeloma Diagnosed and What Testing is Necessary After


Smoldering multiple myeloma, also known as SMM, is an early form of multiple myeloma when patients don’t experience issues or symptoms of the condition.

Dr. Irene Ghobrial:

Smoldering myeloma – and, the name says it; it’s almost myeloma, it has a higher chance of progressing to myeloma – in general, it’s about 10 percent per year, and usually, the bone marrow has more than 10 percent plasma cells…….3:04- 3:23 You want to make sure that patient is followed up carefully, and you want to offer, potentially, clinical trials because we want to prevent progression. The hope in the future is you don’t wait until you have lytic lesions, fractures in your bones, kidney failure, and then we treat. The hope is we treat you earlier, and we can make a huge difference in that early interception for myeloma. 

Lisa Hatfield:

So smoldering myeloma, or SMM, smoldering multiple myeloma, is the precursor to multiple myeloma. Not every person who has smoldering is going to move right into myeloma. They have high-risk smoldering myeloma, which is not the same as high-risk multiple myeloma. It’s really important if you’re diagnosed with smoldering myeloma, to find a specialist.

And the reason why is we have a couple people in one of my support groups who were diagnosed with smoldering myeloma. And depending on the provider you talk with, some choose to treat smoldering myeloma. Some choose to watch and wait and monitor that myeloma. The other important thing to know is there are many clinical trials out there for smoldering myeloma patients. And your provider, particularly any specialists you may have contact with, even if it’s just for a consult, they can help navigate you to those clinical trials that might be best for you. Some of them require you to be close to a large medical center. Some of them allow you to live at your local location and  just travel maybe once a month or once every couple of months. But it’s really important to talk to a specialist about those clinical trials to see if that would be something that would be of interest to you.

How Does Myeloma Begin and Progress?

How Does Myeloma Begin and Progress? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Myeloma expert Dr. Rafael Fonseca explains where myeloma begins, how it develops over time, and defines key terms for understanding myeloma.

Dr. Rafael Fonseca is the interim director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and serves as the director for Innovation and Transformational Relationships at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Learn more about Dr. Fonseca here.

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Dr. Fonseca, to level set with our audience, can you help us understand myeloma?

Dr. Fonseca:

I’m happy to do so. Multiple myeloma is a cancer form of the bone marrow that arises when the cells that under normal circumstances protect us by the formation of antibodies. These are called the plasma cells. They become malignant. Myeloma is the last stage of a process where a plasma cell can go through a benign tumor or benign phase, if you may, something we call the monoclonal gammopathy, which by the way is quite common. About two percent of people over the age of 50 have this abnormality. Think of it like the colon polyp, a precursor condition.

There’s an intermediate stage that we call smoldering multiple myeloma, which is just more growth, but not quite at the level that it creates problems for the individual.

Then lastly, what we just simply call multiple myeloma, and that is when the growth of those cells becomes of such magnitude that a person starts having problems or starts having symptoms related to that. 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.

Lastly, the myeloma cells product proteins and some of the fragments of those proteins can be damaging to the kidneys. Occasionally, people will present with decreased kidney function and sometimes outright failure of the kidneys. Those are the common presentations. It is a disease that mostly affects people in their 70s. It is not something that you can detect through routine testing; it’s just indirectly we start seeing abnormalities and then we do the right testing. If anyone is hearing this, of course, they need to have a detailed discussion with their own provider.