We are international
The first 2002 IMF Patient & Family Seminar took place in Dallas, Texas on January 8-9th. Faculty speakers from around the country shared their expertise and knowledge on a variety of myeloma topics. Key data on advances in the field of myeloma, presented at the 43rd American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting, were shared with the 200 IMF members in attendance. (ASH abstracts are available upon request from the IMF).

The seminar commenced with a popular presentation by Dr. Brian Durie (Cedars Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center) on biology and staging of myeloma and how it relates to treatment options. As always, this presentation was a big hit with the many newly diagnosed myeloma patients in the audience.

Dr. Gregory Mundy (University of Texas) lectured on bone disease, addressing the issue of hypercalcemia associated with increased bone resorption and, frequently, with impairment of renal function. Dr. Mundy?s opinion is that the best approach is to effectively treat the myeloma itself, and to treat the hypercalcemia with drugs that inhibit bone resorption combined with the careful and judicious use of intravenous fluids. He also spoke of the efficacy of bisphosphonates in the treatment of hypercalcemia as well as in the treatment of myeloma bone disease in patients who do not have hypercalcemia.

Dr. Philip Greipp (Mayo Clinic) discussed standard therapy for myeloma, followed by Dr. Jayesh Mehta (Northwestern University Medical School and The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center), who reviewed the latest advances with high dose therapy and the role of transplantation. Dr. Durie followed with a presentation on novel therapies, focusing on the latest about IMiDs & PS-34 as revealed at ASH.

As a break from the expert presentations, a patient panel featuring IMFers Helen Shifrin, Yelak Biru, and Michael Katz, offered helpful tips to other patients regarding the challenges of living with myeloma.

Following the patient panel, the expert presentations resumed with a talk by Dr. Mehta on the latest clinical trial date about the role of thalidomide in myeloma, as well as proper dosing and combination therapy of thalidomide and dexamethasone.

The final presentation by Dr. Marvin Stone (Baylor-Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center) focused on supportive care ? initial pain assessment, common symptoms of myeloma, and the role of bisphosphonate therapy and anti-agent 6.

The patients and caregivers eagerly participated in the stimulating discussions that followed each presentation. The plethora of questions raised and answers received make clear the need for such educational programs. IMF Patient & Family Seminars are designed to allow for a comprehensive overview of various topics and an interactive exchange between the faculty panel and the patient community. The IMF is committed to serving our members through our seminars, hotline, published materials, and website.

The broad range of services the IMF provides are made possible by the support of our members. At the Dallas seminar, the IMF was honored to recognize those special members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of the IMF and the myeloma community. IMF President Susie Novis made presentations to several members who have joined the IMF Donor Recognition Program. We are grateful for their support and the contributions of time, money and valued services. Together, we will continue our fight against myeloma. s