Just some quick background...I was dx'd stage III Myeloma 17 years ago. Now 3 transplants later (one a full allo), a couple of clinical trials, radiation and 3 yrs of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), I've been in a good remission with no treatment the last 9 years. I've been fortunate to be able to attend the ASH conference each of the last 6 years and am happy to summarize what I've learned (or been reminded of) each day.
ASH is attended by 25,000 hematologists, oncologists, and researchers from all over the world and focuses on providing current treatment options and developments for all blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma). Most of the exciting new updates on MM clinical trials won't be presented till Monday but there's certainly lots going on before then. Exhibitors such as Celgene (Thalidomide, Revlimid, Pomalidmide), Millennium (Velcade), and Onyx (Carfilzommib) as well as non-profits such as the IMF will be exhibiting their information tomorrow. And each day several hundred posters displaying new findings are displayed.
Today (Fri) is always a day of symposiums preceding the official opening of the ASH meeting. As such, organizations like the IMF and MMRF bring in a panel of MM experts to present and discuss case studies. MMRF ran their symposium from 7-11am this morning and it was chaired my MM expert Dr Paul Richardson. And the IMF symposium chaired by Dr Brian Durie ran from 6:30-9:30 this evening. Each audience was about 500-700 of mostly doctors listening to the current treatment options and controversies that still need further research. Answers to questions such as:
1) How important is a Complete Response
2) Should a Stem Cell Transplant be done sooner, later or not at all
3) What about maintenance treatment?
On the other hand, I heard some great quotes from MM experts. Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar said "Each year at ASH the number of MM drugs multiply and there are some I can't even pronounce," Or Dr. Antonio Palumbo remarked "Concentrate your best treatment (e.g. combination therapy rather than single agent) as early as possible (which also saves $$ in the long run.)" Dr. Phillippe Moreau pointed out the VGPR (Very Good Partial Remission) from an SCT (Stem Cell Transplant) will still benefit from consolidation therapy (e.g. Velcade-Thalidomide-Dex) followed by maintenance treatment. And all agreed that maintenance treatment should be continued until either the disease comes back or toxicity/QOL becomes an issue.
All agreed the MM is a very heterogenious disease, something we patients already see when treatment responses vary from patient to patient. However, I'm excited by the outlook for personalized therapy for MM patients. It's already starting as patients are being classified, based on cytogenetics and FISH analysis, to standard, intermediate and high risk patients with treatments varying accordingly...but still lots to research from these results as well as gene expression profiling data and more.
Well, that's enough for today.