The International Myeloma Foundation applauds the Chicago Tribune for its article 'Study assesses gene link to come cancers" (News, July 13) referencing the recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding the role of the environment in the development of cancer. This is particularly true with multiple myeloma, a little-known, fatal cancer of the bone marrow that affects from 75,000-100,000 people in the United States. Multiple myeloma is one the rise, with an estimated 13, 500 new cases diagnosed each year. As the numbers continue to climb, it is imperative that the public educate themselves about the critical role of prevention.
For years, studies have shown that environmental factors play a role in the development of certain cancers. It is no coincidence that high concentrations of myeloma patients can be found living near polluted lakes or next to major industrial centers. While the genetics of cancer represent the keys that will, it is hoped, unlock the door to more effective treatments and ultimately a cure, it is important to remember that the genome project is not a "magic bullet." While it holds a lot of promise, it won't become the miracle answer that solves all problems.
As the myeloma community aggressively works toward a cure, we challenge everyone to take a proactive role in cancer prevention. Consider the lifestyle and environmental elements that may put you at risk and assess your ability to reduce or eliminate them. As a society, we need to work together to protect the planet, as research now shows that it plays a major role in our long-term health. It is not just a matter of environmental activism, it's a matter of life and death.
The International Myeloma Foundation has a ten-year history of supporting the research, education, advocacy and treatment of myeloma. We exist to provide patients, their families, friends and the medical community with the information and resources they need to make educated treatment decisions. We encourage patients to contact us at (800) 452-CURE or via the Internet at www.myeloma.org.
Susie Novis, President
International Myeloma Foundation
12650 Riverside Drive, Ste. 206
North Hollywood, CA 91607