(For Release August 5, 2004 – Los Angeles , CA ) The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) today announced plans to focus its educational efforts on healthcare professionals during Myeloma Awareness Week (August 20 – 30, 2004). The IMF believes that raising awareness in the medical professions about multiple myeloma, a cancer that has experienced an increase in incidence among younger people, is a critical step toward early diagnosis and encouraging the development of new treatments. The IMF is calling on both the myeloma community and the public-at-large to put valuable information into the hands of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
The IMF is providing materials free-of-charge for distribution, including easy-to-read patient handbooks and two-sided tip cards covering myeloma symptoms and diagnosis. According to IMF President Susie Novis, “Too many myeloma cases are going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. At the IMF we want to raise awareness in the medical community about this devastating disease, its symptoms and its treatments. To that end, we are arming the public with pass-along information about myeloma.”
Previously a disease of the elderly, today myeloma is being diagnosed in people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Only 30% of all myeloma patients can expect to survive five years; those who do are primarily the patients with an early diagnosis. Yet despite the rise in incidence among younger patients, many oncologists see few cases and are unfamiliar with myeloma’s early signs—such as low back pain—that may mimic other common conditions. In fact, a significant number of people with myeloma do not experience any symptoms at all, and the disease is only identified through routine blood tests. Proper education about recognizing and evaluating these abnormal test results is especially important.
Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., Chairman of the Board of the IMF, emphasizes what is required to make progress. “Providing the best treatment for myeloma patients is hampered by two things:
- lack of awareness about myeloma and the new approaches to diagnosis and treatment;
- difficulty in persuading large drug companies to invest in new drug development for this small ‘niche” market.”
The grassroots efforts of the IMF and the public during Myeloma Awareness Week will bring myeloma to the attention of physicians to improve early diagnosis and provision of new treatment options such as thalidomide and the recently FDA approved drug, VELCADEâ. These treatments are increasing not only the percentage of patients who are responding well to treatment, but the length of their survival.
For more information about the International Myeloma Foundation visit www.myeloma.org or call 800-452-CURE (800-452-2873).
The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) was founded in 1990 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and cure. The IMF is governed by a Board of Directors and guided by a Scientific Advisory Board. With a positive and expansive outreach to 110,000 members in over 106 countries, the IMF conducts educational patient seminars, clinical conferences, and scientific workshops; funds grant and scholarship programs; and offers patient and family support, advocacy and educational initiatives.
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