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May 25, 2003 Myeloma Minute
05.25.03
What's News
  • Maine Drug Law Can Take Effect
    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Maine can implement its pioneering law designed to lower prescription drug prices for the poor and uninsured, but left open further challenges to the program. (from Reuters)
    Other states have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. Here are just a few of many related articles:

Question of the Week

In each issue of the Myeloma Minute, we feature an important question that has been recently addressed to the IMF Hotline. Our answers are not intended as medical advice, but as information to discuss with your doctor. If you have further questions or comments about any of the issues raised this week or in continuing weeks, please write us care of the Myeloma Minute.

Q. I have compression fractures in my back that are extremely painful. I have heard other myeloma patients mention a procedure called "kyphoplasty" that may help this problem. What can you tell me about it?

A. KYPHOPLASTY is a procedure designed to help patients who have "intractable spinal pain secondary to vertebral body fractures." In lay terms, that means pain that does not respond to bed rest, pain medications, or back braces, and is caused by breaks in the vertebrae.

The vertebrae, when fractured, often compress nerves, resulting in unremitting pain. These fractures can also cause problems in addition to pain, depending upon which vertebrae are affected. For example, when the thoracic (mid-back) spine is compressed, a patient can have decreased lung capacity. When the lumbar (lower back) spine is compressed, a patient can have decreased lung capacity and even loss of appetite due to a reduction in abdominal space. And vertebral compression often leads to significant loss of height.

Previously, the only procedure available to help support collapsed vertebrae was vertebroplasty, which involves injecting a semi-liquid plastic cement called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) under high pressure into a fractured vertebral body through one or two bone biopsy needles. After injection, the PMMA hardens. This technique was developed to stabilize the spine, increase mobility, and decrease the pain from vertebral compression fractures. It does not, however, help with the spinal deformity, and there is a danger of leaks of PMMA into surrounding tissues.

Kyphoplasty involves inserting (under image guidance, using a radiocontrast medium) two balloons, one in either side of the vertebral space. The balloons are then inflated. By inflating the balloons, the surgeon forces the "cancellous" or soft, central part of the bone outwards toward the outside of the vertebral body. The balloons used in kyphoplasty allow some correction of the deformity by reexpanding the compressed vertebra. The expansion of the balloons also forces the soft, central bone tissue out toward the harder, outer bone of the vertebra, where it "dams up" the cracks and fissures in the fractured vertebra. The balloon is deflated and withdrawn after it is inflated, leaving a void or cavity. PMMA is then inserted into the cavity under low pressure. Because the walls of the vertebra are dammed up, the placement of the cement is more carefully controlled than in vertebroplasty, and the cement is therefore less likely to ooze out. With kyphoplasty, surgeons are, in many cases, able to restore a good portion of a patient's lost height. This depends largely on the state of the fractured bone tissue and how much time has passed since the fracture.

In order to determine if kyphoplasty would be an appropriate option for you, you should speak to your oncologist, who may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. Kyphoplasty requires specially trained surgeons. If your oncologist thinks that kyphoplasty may be a viable option but doesn't have a referral for you, you may call us here at the Hotline—(800) 452-CURE (800-452-2873) in the US and Canada between 9 am and 4 pm PST; elsewhere call (818) 487-7455—or go to the Kyphon website (www.kyphon.com). This website lists specially trained surgeons by area and zip code.


What's New in Myeloma Research:
  • The role that hepatocyte growth factor plays in multiple myeloma is unclear.
    Researchers in Greece conclude that serum HGF levels are increased in advanced stages of MM disease and extended bone lesions. HGF correlates with IL-6 and TNF-alpha, which are cytokines involved in osteoclast stimulation in MM.
    However, an independent association of HGF with bone turnover markers was not shown. (from NewsRx.com )

What's New in Clinical Trials:

If you would like to browse trials currently open for enrollment, visit the Clinical Trials page of the IMF web site. Among the links, you will find CenterWatch and EmergingMed. The IMF has entered into partnerships with them to assist you in matching trials to your particular patient profile (i.e., stage of disease, previous treatment, how well you are able to carry out the activities of daily living, etc.) and by doing so, increase your chances of being eligible. You can also learn more about clinical trials by reviewing material from the National Cancer Institute.


Quality of Life Update:
  • Support Group Leader Retreat - June 27-29, 2003
    The IMF understands that support group leaders need support too! That's why we're pleased to once again offer this exciting, supportive program at Duke University in Raleigh, NC. The Leader Retreat is designed to help group leaders from across the country and around the world get together and exchange ideas, suggestions and success stories, while learning new skills and making new friends.

If you are interested in joining a support group, use the IMF's worldwide support group directory to find one that meets near you. You can also join our online support group.

If you have a topic of particular interest that you would like us to feature, if you are starting a support group, or if you are in a support group that is doing something to make a real difference in the lives of mutiple myeloma patients and their families and friends, let us know.


Upcoming Seminars and Conferences:
Upcoming Fundraisers:

FUNdraising Made Easy
You know you want to do something, but deciding on what to do can be confusing. The IMF can help.

From Handel to Hawkins
June 8, 2003
Bronx, NY
Robert Cait at the Laugh Factory
June 11, 2003
West Hollywood, CA
New! Register online for this event.
"Hair Cares"
June 22, 2003
Curries Hair, Skin & Nail Salon, Glen Mills, PA
5th Annual Corporate Challenge
June 30, 2003
Stamford, CT

Multiple Musicians Against Multiple Myeloma
July 6, 2003
Sea Cliff, NY

Wamp Swim-athon
July 19, 2003
West Hartford, CT
Mile High March for Myeloma
August 16, 2003
Lake Arrowhead, CA
Ralph Ferrizzi Memorial Golf Tournament
August 23, 2003
Allentown, PA
Corporate Cup Challenge
August 26, 2003
Naperville, IL
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Exciting Opportunities
  • Robert Kyle Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner
    August 2, 2003
    Rochester, MN

    The International Myeloma Foundation is proud to present its first Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award to Robert A. Kyle, M.D., Professor of Medicine & Laboratory Medicine, Mayo Clinic, in recognition for his outstanding life work, clinically and in research, in the field of myeloma. The award will be presented in subsequent years to honor other professionals for their work in the field.
  • Ribbon of Hope Making A World of Difference Anniversary Gala
    October 4, 2003
    Paul Allen's Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, WA

    The evening promises to be the best ever, both creatively and financially! The EMP is Seattle's most unique architectural wonder. The Frank O. Gehry-designed building houses a new interactive museum that combines performance space, technology and revolutionary architecture in a facility created to celebrate the heritage and anticipate the future of American popular music.

Items of Interest:
  • BANK ON A CURE
    BANK ON A CURE™ is an innovative and powerful concept designed to establish a method to find new treatments for multiple myeloma and other related diseases as well as the possibility of new cures, while customizing care for current patients.
  • Myeloma Matrix
    The Myeloma Matrix provides updated information about drugs beginning with pre-clinical developments and tracks drugs as they proceed through Phases I – III of clinical trials, drugs that have been FDA approved, and information on trials that are being conducted by NCI- sponsored cooperative groups as well as other myeloma study groups. The online version is updated regularly. If you would like to have a printed copy, call the toll-free hotline (800) 452-2873.
  • International Prognostic Index
    The International Myeloma Foundation is proud to sponsor the International Prognostic Index (IPI) Classification for Multiple Myeloma. Nearly twenty myeloma institutions from around the world are collaborating to create an updated staging system for multiple myeloma.
  • NexCura Cancer Profiler
    The Cancer Profiler is a free service (no hidden fees or charges). Its tools provide you with information specific to your cancer diagnosis to help you make more informed treatment decisions along with your physician.
  • Expert Opinions on Multiple Myeloma
    A multimedia, CME-accredited program for physicians with the chance to see world-renowned myeloma specialists sharing their knowledge, discussing treatment choices, and comparing their perspectives on controversial issues in multiple myeloma and related diseases.
  • MMInteractive
    An exciting new way for myeloma patients to get involved at patient seminars.
  • Myeloma At The Movies
    It has been our goal to bring our Patient & Family Seminars to people around the country who might not be able to attend an actual meeting, so we have set up a video lending library.

Shop for the Cure!


Many of the internet's most popular merchants will donate a portion of your purchases to the IMF if you enter their sites using the links on our Shop For The Cure page. You can also use the special shortcut URLs listed below:



So, Shop For The Cure by using these links to the same get great service and low prices you're used to while helping support the IMF!


Help Us Help Others...
As a non-profit organization, the IMF is completely dependent on the support of our members. Please consider showing your support by making a tax-deductible donation today. Donations in honor of a friend or family member make great gifts and are a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion. You can donate online or by calling the IMF at (800) 452-CURE. We sincerely thank you for your support.
Tell A Friend...
The Myeloma Minute is a great way to stay abreast of the latest developments within the myeloma community. We hope you'll share this information with friends, family members and physicians and encourage them to sign up for their own copy by forwarding this message. New users can register by clicking here.
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