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Myeloma + Chemo = Inflamm-Aging?!?

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“Immunosenescence/inflamm-aging may contribute to diseases such as cancer but its role during aging is still controversial…”

What is “inflammation-aging?” In order to answer that, I have to provide a little background.

I am a long-term survivor of a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. First diagnosed in 1994, I underwent the standard-of-care conventional therapies for a newly diagnosed MM (NDMM) patient- surgery, radiation, induction therapy followed by an autologous stem cell transplant. An aggressive, highly toxic therapy plan.

Remission, relapse, remission, relapse, end-stage all by September of 1997. I then underwent an experimental therapy and it worked. Cancer-free by early 1999 where I have remained.

I say all that to establish that I underwent a lot of chemo and radiation. A few years after I completed the SOC therapies for MM, I began to develop long-term side effects such as chemobrain, nerve damage, Afib, cardiomyopathy, joint damage and more.

At this point I am more likely to die of side effects caused my my FDA approved, safe and effective, SOC therapies than I am of my original cancer, multiple myeloma.

For years, I’ve been operating under the idea that it was the toxicity of chemotherapy that caused side effects. Based on the studies below, I have to research inflammation as the possible culprit for short, long-term and late stage side effects.

The studies linked below establish the dark, long-term side of high dose chemotherapy. Inflammation in general- specifically short, long-term and late stage side effects such as premature aging, frailty, joint, heart, brain damage.

Some studies even raise the possibility of chemo causing the MM patient’s relapse and eventual MDR aka multi-drug resistance.

This is my first blog post about chemotherapy causing inflammation, side effects, etc. I have come to believe that my aggressive, high-dose chemotherapy and radiation is not only responsible for my many long-term and late stage side effects but my cancer relapses as well. 

If you have any questions or input as to the inflammation caused by either chemotherapy or radiation, scroll down the page, post a question or a comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • MM Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Multiple Myeloma Side Effects- Identify and Prevent

Multiple Myeloma Chemotherapy, Allergy, Hypersensitivity, Side Effects?

Immunosenescence and Inflamm-Aging As Two Sides of the Same Coin: Friends or Foes?

“Conclusion and Future Perspectives- Aging is a highly complex process but an increased understanding of the process should lead to the efficient treatment of the many age-related diseases. The immune system interacts with many other systems in the organism (mainly the neural, metabolic, and the endocrine systems) and is, therefore, one of the most ubiquitous master systems of the organism.

As such, it orchestrates health when it functions well but, when maladapted, it leads to diseases in the aging organism. Many changes in the immune system with age have been described and most of them have been considered deleterious and causes of many age-related diseases.

Changes occur in both the innate and the adaptive immune arms of the immune system, but perhaps not to the same extent or with the same consequences. There is an intricate interrelationship between inflamm-aging and immunosenescence, which are nearly identical in some ways but very different in other aspects and, occurring in concert, mutually influencing each other. Future studies are obviously necessary to elucidate these interactions and raise targets for new interventions to decrease the deleterious effects of aging and use the beneficial effects for a better health and functionspan in the elderly.

Therefore, the phenomenon traditionally termed “immunosenescence” may be considered an immunoremodeling/adaptation as a result of chronic aggressions and time. Immunosenescence may be necessary for an adequate response to known antigens, but detrimental for responses to new antigens in most circumstances. The discovery of new processes, new immune cell subtypes, and the integration of genetic/epigenetic/metabolic and environmental factors (nutrition) will nuance our «evil» and apparently mistaken perception that aging-associated immune changes are only detrimental.

Immunosenescence/inflamm-aging may contribute to diseases such as cancer but its role during aging is still controversial. Elderly in clinical settings are doing much better than predicted from experiments thus, human studies in particular are badly needed.

In view of the successes of cancer immunotherapy and vaccination in the elderly, no such intervention should be refused to an elderly subject based on a dogmatic assumption that aging-related immune changes are detrimental. Thus, time is of the essence; and the future is already now for the elderly…”

Biological Aspects of Inflamm-Aging in Childhood Cancer Survivors

“Anti-cancer treatments improve survival in children with cancer. A total of 80% of children treated for childhood cancer achieve 5-year survival, becoming long-term survivors. However, they undergo several chronic late effects related to treatments. In childhood cancer survivors a chronic low-grade inflammation, known as inflamm-aging, is responsible for frailty, a condition characterized by vital organ failure and by premature aging processes.

Inflamm-aging is closely related to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which induce inflammation, accumulation of senescent cells, DNA mutations, and the production of reactive oxygen species. All these conditions are responsible for the onset of secondary diseases, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and infertility.

Considering that the pathobiology of frailty among childhood cancer survivors is still unknown, investigations are needed to better understand frailty’s biological and molecular processes and to identify inflamm-aging key biomarkers in order to facilitate the screening of comorbidities and to clarify whether treatments, normally used to modulate inflamm-aging, may be beneficial…”

Cellular Senescence Promotes Adverse Effects of Chemotherapy and Cancer Relapse

Significance: Many genotoxic chemotherapies have debilitating side effects and also induce cellular senescence in normal tissues. The senescent cells remain chronically present where they can promote local and systemic inflammation that causes or exacerbates many side effects of the chemotherapy. Cancer Discov; 7(2); 165–76. ©2016 AACR…”

Study Offers Insights on Health Problems among AYA Cancer Survivors

“Cancer survivors who were diagnosed as adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are more likely to develop a wide range of chronic health problems than their peers who did not have cancer, a large new study shows…

Adolescents and young adults are defined as those ranging from ages 15 to 39…

“Cancer survivors are generally at higher risk for developing serious health conditions because of the treatments they received…”

Overall, the risk of developing any of the 26 health conditions was about 50% higher among AYA cancer survivors than in the comparison group. After 10 years, 40% of AYA cancer survivors had developed two or more of these conditions, compared with only 20% of people in the group with no history of cancer…

The conditions for which risk was increased the most among survivors of AYA cancer were avascular necrosis, osteoporosis, joint replacement surgery, stroke, premature ovarian failure, and heart failure or a type of heart damage called cardiomyopathy…”


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