What I wish I knew about Multiple Myeloma treatments 25 years later...

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Multiple Myeloma Therapy = Accelerated Aging

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“Even decades after treatment, multiple myeloma (MM) survivors tire more easily than people with no history of the disease, according to new research.”

Conventional cancer treatement for the newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM) patient is a conundrum. Do I undergo chemotherapy and radiation in hopes of killing my MM? If I do however, I will give myself short, long-term and late-stage side effects including accelerated aging. Further, while “endocrine disorders” are not the same as “accelerated aging”, the point of the article linked below is that aggressive therapy can do real damage to your body. Or, to put it differently, chemotherapy “increases markers of molecular aging…”

So what does the newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM) patient do?!?

Ethnic young adult female cancer patient sipping tea while at home

First and foremost, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma does not have to mean aggressive, high-dose chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery, as an example, can de-bulk a tumor simply by cutting it out of your body. When I was first diagnosed, I had a single plasmacytoma that was surgically removed.

But when you MM has spread or is “systemic,” what do you do?

Yes, there are cancer cases that call for aggressive chemotherapy. In the case of my type of cancer, multiple myeloma, a diagnosis at a later stage certainly calls for aggressive chemo in an attempt to put the MM patient into remission.

At the same time however, a diagnosis of early stage multple myeloma may not require aggressive chemotherapy. Meaning, the patient, depending on his/her stage, age, health status, etc. may live a higher quality of life and a longer overall survival by pursuing a “less is more” approach to chemotherapy. Aggressive or high-dose chemotherapy often leads to serious long-term and late stage side effects.

I wrote a cancer coaching blog post to a newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patient recently outlining this exact issue and my suggested therapy plan. 

The key in my opinion, is to “pre-habilitate” if possible, supplement before, during and after treatment and/or adopt an anti-MM, anti-inflammatory lifestyle as soon as possible.

Have you been diagnosed with multiple myeloma?  What stage? What symptoms are you experiencing?  Scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

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After Cancer, Accelerated Aging?

“Even decades after treatment, cancer survivors tire more easily than people with no history of the disease, according to new research.

The findings hint at a pattern of “accelerated aging” for people with a cancer history.

“The main goal of cancer treatment has been survival, but studies like this suggest that we need also to examine the longer-term effects on health and quality of life,” said the study’s senior author, Jennifer Schrack. She’s an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

The researchers analyzed data from a long-term study on normal aging. More than 300 were cancer survivors, with an average age of 74. About 1,330 of those studied, average age 69, had not had the disease.

Participants completed periodic treadmill tests and 400-meter walks (two-tenths of a mile) to assess their endurance, beginning in 2007. Afterward, they were asked to rate their level of fatigue.

The researchers compared results of cancer survivors with the results of adults who never had cancer.

“We were surprised by the magnitude of the differences we found,” Schrack said in a university news release.

On average, those with a history of cancer treatment tired more easily on the treadmill tests and took longer to finish the walking tests, the study found.

It showed cancer treatment was linked to a 1.6 times greater risk of a high level of fatigue.

Being older than 65 was associated with a 5.7 higher risk for this decline in endurance.

The cancer survivors walked, on average, 14 seconds slower and got tired more quickly, the study found.

The results were published recently in the journal Cancer. The U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. National Institute on Aging funded the research.

As of 2016, there were some 16 million cancer survivors in the United States alone, the study’s authors noted.

Previous studies have shown that cancer treatment — often including chemotherapy and radiation — appears to speed up the aging process, leading to fatigue, a decline in brain function, heart disease and return of cancer.

These new findings “support the idea that a history of cancer is associated with higher fatigability and that this effect worsens with advancing age,” Schrack said.

“The long-term goal is that doctors and patients will be able to take those specific long-term effects into account when they decide how to treat different cancers,” she added.

Cancer Survivors May Face Premature Aging

Other drugs used in cancer treatment also appear to contribute to accelerated aging. These drugs can include steroids, hormone therapy and targeted cancer treatments.

The study authors said a wide-ranging review of scientific evidence found that:

There’s now a movement afoot to reduce the amount of treatment needed to beat cancer, as a means of either avoiding or easing these aging effects, Hashmi and Shapiro said.

Studies and clinical trials are evaluating ways to de-escalate treatments for cancers like lymphoma, Shapiro said.

Cancer survivors also can help themselves by adopting a healthier lifestyle, Hashmi advised — quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, eating right and exercising regularly.”

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