Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month

multiple myeloma awareness month

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell important for a healthy immune system. Over time, myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow, forming tumors in many of the body’s bones. These tumors may keep the bone marrow from making enough healthy blood cells and weaken the bone. 

While the causes of multiple myeloma are not fully understood, it is more common in older people, especially men, and African Americans. Some common symptoms include bone pain, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections, and frequent urination. 

The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that more than 34,920 people living in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2021 and that 12,410 died of the disease.

African Americans have both higher incidence and death rates of multiple myeloma compared with whites, a cancer disparity highlighted in the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report. The report featured octogenarian Alfred Johnson, whose myeloma has been successfully controlled with treatment. In addition, the AACR Cancer Progress Report featured multiple myeloma survivor Dr. David Wellenstein who participated in a clinical trial for CAR T-cell therapy.

What is the AACR Doing in This Area?

In April 2021, AACR presented a virtual special conference on myeloma. This virtual meeting was the first AACR conference focused on myeloma and discussed the genomics and epigenetics of myeloma, disease progression, and treatment options. Learn more here.

The AACR journal Blood Cancer Discovery provides a critical outlet for high-impact basic, translational, and clinical research on all hematologic cancers, including multiple myeloma.

The AACR has recently awarded a research grant to an investigator pursuing promising research related to multiple.

In 2021, Julia Frede, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute was awarded a two-year AACR-Amgen Fellowship in Clinical/Translational Cancer Research. Dr. Frede’s project seeks to define therapeutic approaches that can overcome therapy resistance in patients with multiple myeloma by delineating changes in functional states which can be targeted. She is performing RNA sequencing of single myeloma cells in longitudinal samples from patients with relapsed/refractory myeloma to analyze and investigate differentiation state changes.

“The [fellowship] gives me the opportunity to pursue my research investigating transcriptional heterogeneity and epigenetic plasticity in myeloma,” Dr. Freda.