Risk of Another Cancer After Myeloma

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Topics include: Treatment

Many patients express concern taking powerful drugs for an extended period of time may increase their risk of developing another cancer. Dr. Craig Hofmeister addresses this important question and provides his perspective on prolonged "consumption of medication" and what this means.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

There’s been concern as you live longer and take some of these powerful medicines that it raises your risk of another cancer, and some of the drugs specifically in this illness there were some evidence maybe that happened.  How do you think of that?  Should people be afraid of these medicines, say, Well, may live longer, maybe I’ll even live better, but, oh, my god, there’s another shoe that’s going to drop of some other one I’ve never heard of. 

Dr. Hofmeister:

I mean this came up relatively surprisingly in the last few years showing that, Revlimid (lenalidomide) when given in and around autologous transplant or melphalan (Alkeran) in one way shape or form increases the risk of another cancer.  And more than anything it’s particularly galling to a cancer patient to give them a therapy that increases the risk of another cancer.  This is not a way to make friends. 

And so I think that we think of it more like Coumadin (warfarin) and blood thinners.  And patients use Coumadin (warfarin) because it decreases their risk of stroke, and they’re at high risk for stroke, and a stroke can be very debilitating.  But it’s true that a small percentage of people who are on Coumadin (warfarin) have horrible bleeding that puts them in the hospital and leads to horrible events. 

And some treatments we use put patients at risk for a second cancer, but overwhelmingly the risk is that their primary cancer, their multiple myeloma will get out of control.  And in studies that look at how well we control their primary cancer, these types of drugs provide big benefits in comparison to the small increase of other cancers.  While on an individual basis it’s upsetting, on an average with multiple patients you can say that using those drugs benefit more people. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on December 19, 2013