This section is for patients and family members who want to know more about the disease and about Acetylon.
Multiple myeloma is a complex disease. And, while you, or the person you care for, may already know a lot about this disease, you may still have questions. Answers to several commonly asked questions appear below.
The simplest answer is that multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood, specifically of the plasma cells present in blood. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell made in the marrow of bones, and they ordinarily play an important role in helping your body fight off “attacks” from invading pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.
When multiple myeloma develops, the cancer cells build up in the bone marrow and adhere to the healthy bone elements, interfering with their normal function. As a result of this overcrowding and adherence, holes and soft spots (osteolytic lesions) form along the bone’s hard outer surface, which leads to some of the key signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma — bone pain and bone fracture. Sizeable aggregations of multiple myeloma cells are sometimes referred to as plasmacytomas tumors.
Despite extensive research, scientists do not yet know for sure what causes multiple myeloma. It is believed, however, that it may be the result both of exposure to certain environmental factors and a genetic predisposition. Over many years, a series of genetic mutations occur in bone marrow precursor cells which lead to plasma cell dysfunction and malignancy. The goal of current therapies for multiple myeloma is to suppress or eliminate these malignant cells while preserving the important functions of normal blood cells.
The symptoms of multiple myeloma can vary from person to person, with some people having many symptoms and others experiencing few or none. The symptoms can also vary over time. The most common symptoms include:
Each of these principal symptoms is related to overcrowding of plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Multiple myeloma is the second most common type of blood cancer; yet it accounts for only 1.3% of all new cancers in the US. The lifetime risk of getting this type of cancer is 1 in 159 persons, or 0.63%.
According to current estimates, approximately 22,000 new diagnoses of multiple myeloma will be made in 2012 in the United States. According to the most recent data available, between 50,000 to 100,000 people in the United States are currently living with multiple myeloma in the United States.
You and your healthcare team will decide on the course of therapy that is right for you — and it may include the use of a single form of therapy or a combination of therapies.
The following are a few of the more common therapies for multiple myeloma, which could be part of your treatment plan.
Acetylon was founded by two physicians from Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who treat patients with multiple myeloma. These 2 physicians joined together with a chemical biologist from the Massachusetts General Hospital, with the goal of developing new treatment options for this disease. Acetylon is currently sponsoring clinical trials with a new experimental drug in multiple myeloma. The non-profit Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is also contributing to this effort.
Learn about this experimental drug
Find Trial Locations
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) (1-800-955-4572) is one of the many non-profit cancer advocacy groups that can provide you with more information about multiple myeloma.
The LLS website provides information about the disease, treatment options, and clinical trials. In addition, you can find information about the Acetylon clinical trials, get a general overview of the LLS Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP), and subscribe to the LLS monthly Email newsletter, Myeloma Links.
The following organizations also provide information about multiple myeloma:
International Myeloma Foundation 1-800-452-CURE (2873)
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation 1-203-229-0464
Lymphoma Research Foundation 1-800-500-9976
For information about cancer, please visit the following cancer organizations:
American Cancer Society 1-800-227-2345
Association of Cancer Online Resources 1-212-226-5525
National Cancer Institute 1-800-4-CANCER