Daniel Auclair, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), discusses a lesser known disparity in multiple myeloma patients – their location.

Multiple myeloma is a rare blood cancer associated with uncontrolled growth of plasma cells. Abnormal plasma cells – also known as myeloma cells – interfere with the production of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. Myeloma cells also produce inactive clones of abnormal antibodies that may negatively affect the bones and kidneys. Symptoms of multiple myeloma may include: bone pain (particularly in the chest and spine), frequent infections, weakness or numbness in the legs, fatigue, confusion, excessive thirst, and constipation. While the disease is treatable, relapses are common and some patients are refractory to first line treatment.

As Dr. Auclair explains, where a patient lives can greatly impact their survival. Most notably, those who live in more remote areas have less access to big cancer centers. As a result, these patients often have worse outcomes compared to those living in or near a big city. This has become even more apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic which further restricted those who might have otherwise travelled to a large cancer center. 

As Dr. Auclair explains, two positive results of the pandemic have been 1) it has led to more patients receiving treatments that can be administered at home or with less time at a clinic, and 2) telemedicine is now much more commonplace. These have benefited a number of rare disease patients but especially those who might not have been able to receive care before the pandemic due to their location.

To learn more about multiple myeloma and other rare cancers, visit checkrare.com/diseases/cancers/