Multiple myeloma is a bone marrow cancer. It can affect your bones and kidneys, as well as your levels of healthy blood cells. It is a fairly rare cancer, with just under 35,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Multiple myeloma happens when cancerous plasma cells (white blood cells that make antibodies) build up in your marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells. The word “multiple” means that cancer cells are found in more than one area of the body. Smoldering myeloma and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) are conditions that can happen before multiple myeloma, but these conditions don’t usually need treatment.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we offer comprehensive myeloma treatment from a team of experts who are dedicated to treating patients with this rare cancer. Fred Hutch is an internationally recognized center for multiple myeloma, with the most advanced diagnostic, treatment and recovery programs.
Because of our innovation and research programs, patients at Fred Hutch have access to new approaches like CAR T-cell therapy and groundbreaking clinical trials.
Fred Hutch is a national leader in cancer research, with teams of physicians and scientists working to test new treatments or new ways to use current treatments.
Our physicians and scientists pioneered the blood and marrow transplant, which is now one of the most important types of myeloma treatment. Every day, our research teams are exploring immunotherapies, new medicines and different combinations of medicines.
From the first time you come to see us, your care team will begin getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns?
At your first appointment, your hematologist-oncologist will explain your disease, including any unique parts of your diagnosis. They will tell you how the disease is treated and what tests you need to help plan your individual care. Before you leave, your team makes sure you understand the next steps.
The first step in creating a treatment plan is checking your diagnosis of multiple myeloma or another plasma cell disorder.
Your physicians will use blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy to learn more about your myeloma, find out the stage of your cancer, get other information that can help predict what will happen with your disease and find out which organs in your body are affected.
Your treatment plan will depend on the type of multiple myeloma you have. You are unique, and your care team will design a treatment plan specifically for — and with — you. At Fred Hutch, physicians with knowledge and experience in your type will plan and provide your care.
At Fred Hutch, a team of dedicated people surrounds you and your family to give you the highest level of care and support. You are the most important person on your care team. Our patients are at the center of everything we do.
The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for cancer are known as the “standard of care.” For many patients, these therapies will be a large part of their treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for multiple myeloma. We know how to choose the right ones for you and how to deliver them to give you the best chance at a full recovery.
Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can make multiple myeloma treatments more effective and reduce side effects as much as possible. This is why we do clinical trials (also called clinical studies). Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies that aren’t available everywhere. A therapy that is going through trials today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.
Along with treating your cancer, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We also include supportive care services for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
When someone close to you is diagnosed with multiple myeloma, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions and stress.
At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.
Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your own physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.
Physicians and scientists from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine are testing new treatments for multiple myeloma and finding new ways to use current treatments. Through this work, we are looking for answers to two main questions: How can we do even better at controlling or curing multiple myeloma? How can we make treatments less toxic and easier on patients?
Clinical trials pave the way for important advances in cancer treatment, and at Fred Hutch, we offer more active clinical trials than anywhere else. Patients with multiple myeloma may have the opportunity to join trials that are studying:
When your care team designs your treatment plan, they will give you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you decide to join one, you will see the same doctors and nurses as you would for standard therapy.
Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a study and why. This can help you make the decision that is best for you.