In some ways, a decade seems like a lifetime, but in other ways time flies by. 2013 was my first American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. That annual meeting, like the one this year, was held in New Orleans. The location may have been the same, but the myeloma abstracts presented have advanced wildly. Sadly, we’ve lost a lot of myeloma patients in the last 10 years, but there are also many, many patients, like me, who have continued to benefit from the ever-advancing research and approved treatments for relapsed/refractory patients.

I pulled out my notes from ASH 2013 and there were 830 abstracts related to multiple myeloma; this number jumped to 1,041 this year. Not only has the number of research projects presented increased, but we’ve also come a long way in the focus of the research. One of the key abstracts in 2013 was comparing Revlimid (lenalidomide) plus low dose dexamethasone with and without maintenance to confirm the benefit of on-going therapy. Maintenance therapy has now been considered the standard of care and it has held off relapse for many. However, the burning question of “Do I need to stay on maintenance until relapse?” is top of mind for patients as they deal with the side effects and cost. This year, there were studies looking at the best ways to test patients to determine if maintenance could be discontinued after a set number of years. The advances of MRD- and mass spectrometry testing which are being used in clinical trials and are on the horizon for the clinic will help answer this question. Hopefully, that answer will be confirmed soon.

The number of therapy categories has also continued to increase. We’ve gone from only having immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs)and proteasome inhibitors to monoclonal antibodies to selective inhibitors of nuclear export to CAR-Ts and now bi-specifics. The combination of all these therapies presents a massive number of possible combinations and treatment options. All of these bring great promise and hope to myeloma patients.

FDA approved myeloma therapies

Please join me as I participate in Dr. Durie’s Top Myeloma Research Presented at ASH 2022 on Tuesday, December 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET and I wish you all a healthy New Year and promise that 2023 will bring even more advancements toward a cure for multiple myeloma!

Linda Huguelet, Chattanooga Multiple Myeloma Networking Group