There is no other single conference where so much information is presented about myeloma. Information about so many topics is provided: how to treat MM patients in various stages; results of phase II & III trials which may indicate upcoming FDA approvals; treatment considerations of MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) patients; pre-clinical research focusing on myeloma targets and cell understanding; and more.
This year the 64th American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting will be a “hybrid” meeting (a combination of in-person in New Orleans and virtual via zoom). I’ll be attending virtually which means that some of my meetings will start at 5 a.m. California time (7 a.m. in New Orleans). I’m so grateful to the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and their sponsors for registering me to attend, and I look forward to blogging about each day’s highlights. Finally, I’ll create a multi-page summary of the most interesting takeaways from my perspective and share this with my support group, post it on our support group website, and distribute to anyone else who requests it.
As background, I attended my first ASH meeting 17 years ago and found it a bit like being diagnosed with myeloma 28 years ago. The terminology and amount of information was overwhelming, not surprising though, since the audience consists of over 30,000 researchers and oncologists who were learning the latest updates for all blood cancers, including myeloma. I’ve learned to prepare a few weeks ahead of time, and I have already reviewed many of the myeloma abstracts and created my personal agenda of talks I want to view. These presentations will typically be oral abstracts of clinical trial results, symposiums (case studies and various treatment considerations), and educational programs rather than biological lab studies. Meetings I attend have more immediate value to patients undergoing treatment or to the newly diagnosed. By the way, you can also check out the abstracts (a summary of the planned presentations) by visiting www.hematology.org, although numerical details and conclusions of these abstracts are often updated during the actual presentations.
If you’ve been following new multiple myeloma (MM) treatments the last few years, they’ve been mostly focused on immunotherapies (treatments which help your own immune system to fight myeloma), and this year’s ASH will have even more about mAbs (monoclonal antibodies), ADCs (antibody drug conjugates), bispecific antibodies, and CAR-T therapies. We currently have 2xCAR-T’s and 1xbispecific FDA-approved treatments in the U.S., but they are for patients with four or more previous lines of therapy (LOT). I’m expecting to hear updated trial results for bispecifics and CAR-Ts used in earlier LOT’s as well as new immunotherapies. Other areas of interest include CelMods, treating earlier stages of MM, other possible treatments with different mechanisms of action, and results of diversity studies.
I’ll be blogging every night during the Dec 9-12 ASH meeting, providing my takeaway highlights presented earlier that day. Along with several other patients/support group leaders the IMF brings to ASH, I look forward to sharing our experiences together via blogging and tweeting. We hope to keep you well informed from our individual patient perspectives. Of course, you’ll have other vehicles to learn about ASH in the weeks that follow, including webinars, telephone conferences, seminars, and more. Maybe your own oncologist will be at ASH. Take advantage of these resources and become your own best patient advocate.
— Jack Aiello, on Twitter @JackMAiello