Myeloma

Myeloma – also known as multiple myeloma – is an incurable cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell found in a normal immune system. These bone-marrow cells develop genetic mutations that cause them to grow uncontrollably.

While myeloma is a challenging disease, there is good news. New, sophisticated therapies are helping people with myeloma lead longer and higher-quality lives than ever before.

When you’re a myeloma patient at UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, you have access to the most innovative therapies and a range of clinical trials that aren’t offered at every hospital.

If your situation requires a bone marrow transplant, you want proven success. UT Southwestern has the top survival rate for stem cell transplants in Texas among adult programs.

Meet Our Experts

Our team of myeloma experts includes national leaders in their fields: 

Diagnosis

Myeloma is diagnosed with a combination of a physical examination, the patient’s symptoms and health status, and tests.

Tests can include:

  • Blood or urine analyses to confirm the presence of amyloid (myeloma’s hallmark protein), as well as a number of other proteins, antibodies, and blood components
  • X-rays to detect bone lesions, which are common among people with the disease
  • Bone-marrow biopsy to detect an excess of cancerous plasma cells in the bone marrow
  • Tissue biopsy to show a buildup of amyloid
  • Imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize tumors and guide biopsies

An accurate diagnosis is critical to forming an effective treatment plan. UT Southwestern takes accurate diagnosis to the highest level with specialized pathologists called hematopathologists who are uniquely trained to identify and classify the many different types of myeloma.

Treatment

UT Southwestern is a leader in the latest genetic analysis and molecular targeted therapies for myeloma.

We typically treat patients for four to six months with a combination of the non-chemotherapy drugs revlimid and velcade. The recently approved drugs pomalidomide and carfilzomib provide more options – and fewer side effects – for patients who don’t do well on the typical treatment.

These drugs target and disrupt specific pathways in the myeloma cells, helping to clear them from the bone marrow and putting patients into remission. Myeloma also can be treated with radiation.

We then perform an autologous stem cell transplant – one that uses a patient’s own cells – which is aimed at extending a patient’s remission and further improving the chances of long-term survival. The transplant replaces bone marrow and helps patients recover their blood cell production.

Maintenance

UT Southwestern also offers post-transplant maintenance therapy to many myeloma patients. Ongoing low doses of revlimid and velcade can help some extend their remissions, and the chemotherapy drug melphalan helps to wipe out as many of the residual myeloma cells as possible.

When the myeloma returns – sometimes in one year, sometimes in 15 years – patients can be treated with therapies that were successful in the past or with different ones.

Life Beyond Myeloma

Living with myeloma or getting back to your life after treatment can be challenging. As cancer specialists, we want to make sure we address your unique needs at every point in your cancer journey.

To do this, we have a specially trained support services staff available to meet with you and your family during and after care, as well as a range of therapies and activities to help you through treatment for myeloma and beyond.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a broad spectrum of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with different types of myeloma. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in joining a clinical trial.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a myeloma specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.