Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the U.S. It can be treated but not cured. This year, an estimated 32,100 people will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and close to 13,000 will die from the disease. Multiple myeloma begins in plasma cells in the bone marrow. Most people diagnosed with multiple myeloma initially have one of two plasma disorders: monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or smoldering multiple myeloma. The disorders are called myeloma precursors. They can be spotted on a routine blood test, but they are not routinely screened for because they typically don’t cause any symptoms and can’t be treated.
Irene Ghobrial, a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, believes that studying the molecular changes that occur as these precursor conditions advance to multiple myeloma could help researchers identify ways to stop them from progressing.
Read my Q&A with Dr. Ghobrial about how this study could help identify ways to prevent precursor conditions from turning into cancer in the Summer issue of Cancer Today.