It is easy to forget that first and foremost, multiple myeloma is a blood disease. That means that in addition to being a cancer treated by oncologists, it is also right in the wheelhouse of hematologists.
The big hematology conference each year is the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition, or ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition.
This year, it’s the 62nd ASH Conference. Like most things this year, the conference was converted from a big meeting in San Diego, California to an all-virtual event to avoid issues from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hematology and Multiple Myeloma
Obviously, not all of the presentations at a hematology conference have anything to do with multiple myeloma, but a lot a research does get presented at the conference. There are numerous Twitter users that do a good job of getting out summaries and notes about various presentations that might be of interest to the myeloma community, and, of course, to me.
One of the topics that keeps coming up is particularly disturbing to me.
An increasing amount of research shows that daratumumab is very effective against myeloma in almost every stage of treatment. Of particular concern to me is this concept.
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Dara and Me
If you’ve been following along with me, you know that last year, I was put on a dara and 10mg revlimid cocktail for my maintenance regimen post-ASCT.
We stopped the revlimid almost right away. I took four infusions of dara. During that time, my immune system blood numbers went down, and down, and down, until they basically hit zero.
Shortly thereafter I ended up in the hospital where otherwise trivial bacterial and fungal infections forced me into the hospital for pretty much the whole month of June.
My oncologist suspects that I had a rare reaction (Oh goodie, here we go, a rare cancer, and a rare reaction) to Daratumumab in which it affect my immune system, and apparently made me lose my stem cell graph. We had to reinfuse stem cells that were left over from my ASCT to get my immune system back.
So… unless something has changed, dara and me do not go together. This looks increasingly like a bummer as much of the research presented this year at the ASH conference shows how great dara is at treating multiple myeloma, in pretty much all phases of the disease, and how adding it to other standard treatments improves outcomes in myeloma patients.
What Next Myeloma Treatment
If it sounds like there isn’t really a point, and that I’m mostly whining, you are not wrong. Fortunately, there were a lot of other presentations that I haven’t even got to looking at yet. There may be alternatives, and there are definitely new things coming down the pipeline.
It’s hard not to be encouraged by sentiments like this:
Now, more than ever: