—Continuous Therapy Becoming the New Paradigm of Treatment—
—"Progress in Myeloma Serves as a Roadmap for Transforming the Treatment of a Wide Range of Cancers"—
North Hollywood, CA and Chicago, IL – June 3, 2010 – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), the oldest and largest foundation dedicated to improving the life and care of myeloma patients, today said this year's ASCO cancer conference could change the way patients are treated. The data favor fewer stem cell transplants and increased use of maintenance therapy—continuing therapy even in patients who have achieved a complete response. The American Society of Clinical Oncologists holds its annual meeting this year in Chicago June 4th through 8th.
Key studies cited by the IMF include:
- Two multi-center trials (abstract #8017 and #8018), of approximately 600 patients. Both studies cut the risk of disease progression in more than half in patients on a REVLIMID-based maintenance therapy following a stem cell transplant—highlighted by ASCO as one of the most important developments this year.
- A study (#8013) of more than 500 patients on a four drug VELCADE-based therapy followed by maintenance demonstrated improved responses compared to patients on a three drug therapy without maintenance. As an aside, this is one of two studies (see also abstract #8014) that show reduced dosage of VELCADE-based regimens reduces toxicity without compromising efficacy.
- A study (#8015) compared a REVLIMID-based regimen directly to autologous stem cell transplant and found the drug therapy to be comparable to transplant without the risk, recovery time and debilitating side effects of a transplant.
Further data on the role of maintenance therapy is expected at the European Hematology Association Congress following ASCO.
Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., chair and co-founder of the IMF said, "Traditionally doctors have treated cancer until a desired response is reached and then treatment stops. With the novel therapies that can be tolerated long term, and the ability to modulate the immune system to maintain remissions, doctors have been leaning toward continuing treatment as a way to prevent or at least delay relapse. These data may tip the balance in favor of that approach."
Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF noted, "The IMF has been supporting patients with myeloma for twenty years. It has been a long and difficult battle that is far from over. But each year the news is positive, the progress is encouraging and many patients are living longer, better lives while we still work toward a cure."
Other data of significance to myeloma patients include updates on the drugs in development closest to possible approval: pomalidomide and carfilzomib. Also of importance will be presentations on the role of new investigational drugs including epigenetic drugs that work on the function of genes, and drugs that target unique features of myeloma cells.
Dr. Durie continued, "We believe that the clinical and scientific progress in myeloma serves as a roadmap for transforming the treatment of a wide range of cancers. We are seeing myeloma treatments work in lymphomas, leukemias and even solid tumors. In fact, early data is being presented on utilizing REVLIMID in prostate cancer, and evaluating second-generation proteasome inhibitors—carfilzomib and an oral drug from the makers of VELCADE—in multiple cancers."
Myeloma is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that can affect blood cell production and damage bone. The incidence is increasing and myeloma is growing in numbers among younger patients.
ABOUT the International Myeloma Foundation
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 195,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses in four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 200 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE. The global website is www.myeloma.org.
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