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Report from the Fourth Annual Italian Patient & Family Seminar

On Friday, September 29, 2006, the fourth annual IMF Italian Patient & Family Seminar was held in the beautiful city of Bologna. The IMF was pleased to once again collaborate with our Italian colleagues including Prof. Michele Cavo who was the seminar Chair for this meeting. Joining him was a truly esteemed Italian faculty that included Prof. Sante Tura, Prof. Michele Baccarini, Prof. Marco Gobbi, Dr. Maria Teresa Petrucci, Dr. Patrizia Tosi, Dr. Antonio Palumbo, and of course, our very own Prof. Brian Durie.

(left to right)
Our wonderful interpretor, Prof. Cavo, Prof. Durie, Dr.ssa Tosi, Prof. Sante Tura

Previous meetings have been held in Turin and Rome, and we were thrilled to be able to bring our seminar program to the patient community in Bologna and the surrounding area to this historic city, the site of the first European University. The meeting was held on the grounds of the Polyclinical Hospital of Sant'Orsola, in the Aula Magna hall of the New Pathologies building.

More than 180 people attended the event, and for the first time at an Italian Patient and Family seminar we introduced our interactive component to the meeting. As usual, the format was met with excitement and offered valuable information on the patients, their demographics, as well as what type of treatments they are receiving and how they are responding to novel and supportive therapies. We also learned how their overall experience has been. One interesting detail was the knowledge that, as in the United States, 25% of the patients attending the seminar received their myeloma diagnosis during a routine check-up.

The day began with Prof. Durie's presentation "What is Myeloma," and he had the opportunity to introduce the new methods of diagnosis and monitoring now available to myeloma patients. He also noted that today's patient has many things to consider when selecting which treatment to consider. A new approach that he emphasized is that we now have many drugs to try, so that when a therapy begins to fail there are many more to use which can extend remissions for many years. He also stressed the importance of reducing stress and taking time to enjoy life!

A question from the audience.

Next to present was Prof. Marco Gobbi, from Genoa, who gave a very nice presentation on conventional therapy and the implications that patients can expect.

Dr. Maria Teresa Petrucci from Rome, next gave a talk on high dose therapy, and the new and changing role of transplantation. She included a thorough discussion of the differences and possible side effects experienced in both autologous and allogenic transplants.

After the lunch break we regrouped to hear Dr. Patrizia Tosi's presentation on supportive care. She discussed many aspects of supportive care, pain management, flu vaccines, with particular emphasis on anemia and bone disease. Dr. Tosi talked about the use of epo to treat anemia and overcome the feeling of fatigue that many myeloma patients suffer from, and which can greatly impact their feeling of wellbeing. Next she gave a throrough explanation of what causes bone disease in myeloma, how it can cause bone pain, fractures, and is one of the major factors that affect patients' quality of life. Dr. Tosi then went into detail discussing the various treatments that are available to treat this complication, touching on radiotherapy, kyphoplasty and stressing the important role that bisphosphanates play to treat this serious complication.

The day ended with a very informative presentation from Dr. Sara Bringhen who works with Dr. Antonio Palumbo in Turin. Dr. Bringhen, presented a comprehensive update on the emerging role of novel therapies, highlighting the most important drugs in this group, thalidomide, Revlimid and VELCADE. Dr. Bringhen presented data on these agents both alone and in combination with other drugs, and noted the most common side effects associated with their use. Patients were anxious to learn about Revlimid and she showed the data on Revlimid alone, with steroids and with chemotherapy. Dr. Bringhen noted that the use of aspirin or a low molecular weight heparin should be considered as a preventative for DVT's. The use of VELCADE was discussed and noted that VELCADE is approved for use in Europe, and that VELCADE can also be used alone with steroids or with chemotherapy.

Staff of the Associazione Italiana
Contro le Leucemie-Linfomi e Mieloma

The IMF would like to thank the following sponsors whose support made this seminar possible: Celgene, Novartis, Pharmion and The Binding Site.

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