NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif., February 18, 2016– The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) –improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure – is reaching out to primary care doctors, lawmakers and patients to raise awareness of the disease during the organization’s 2016 Myeloma Action Month campaign, starting Mar. 1.
Myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma cells that affects approximately 90,000 people in the US, is the second most common blood cancer. Yet because it is a relatively unknown cancer, myeloma can go undiagnosed until the disease begins to seriously damage health. With more treatment options available than ever, an early diagnosis is vital for achieving the best outcome for patients.
The IMF is the oldest and largest foundation focusing specifically on multiple myeloma. Its reach extends to more than 400,000 members in 140 countries worldwide. “The IMF is proud to lead the charge and take actions that raise awareness of myeloma across the United States and the world,” said IMF President and Co-Founder Susie Novis Durie.
In 2009, inspired by the organization’s key message “knowledge is power,” the IMF recognized the need to heighten the profile of this as-yet incurable cancer and declared March as Myeloma Awareness Month. This year, the IMF has renamed the campaign as Myeloma ACTION Month to better reflect the dynamic, proactive approach it is taking to educate those who affect myeloma patients’ lives.
US primary care doctors, for example, who may not be familiar with myeloma but who are on the front lines of a potential diagnosis, will receive a letter crafted by IMF Chairman Dr. Brian Durie but sent to the physicians by their own patients. The one-page letter spells out potential myeloma symptoms and red flags. A PDF of the letter can be downloaded and personalized at the IMF’s Myeloma Action Month website, http://mam.myeloma.org/
Dr. Durie notes that in 70 percent of myeloma patients the most frequent early warning signals of myeloma are: persistent or recurrent unexplained back or other bone pain; fever or history of recurrent or persistent infections; unexplained fatigue; shortness of breath; unusual bleeding; and rash.
“However, 30 percent of myeloma patients can actually have no symptoms at all,” he said. Red flags in those patients who display no symptoms are: Increased total protein and/or an increase in IgG or IgA levels; abnormal protein in the urine; unexplained anemia; and unexplained increase in serum creatinine.
IMF’s Advocacy team is working to garner a Federal resolution recognizing March 2016 as “National Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month,” as it successfully did in 2015, and the month will be peppered with educational events:
On the eve of the campaign, an IMF Patient & Family Seminar in Boca Raton, FL., Feb. 26-27, will feature interactive panels led by the world’s top myeloma experts.
A daylong Regional Community Workshop will be held in Cleveland, OH., Mar. 5
On Mar. 24th, listeners can tune in to a lively conversation among three myeloma researchers addressing patients’ top concerns, followed by a Q&A, during the free “Living Well with Myeloma” teleconference.
To learn about more opportunities to take action, please visit the IMF’s Myeloma ACTION Month website.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is the oldest and largest foundation focusing specifically on multiple myeloma. The Foundation’s reach extends to more than 400,000 members in 140 countries worldwide. The IMF is dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure by focusing on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. The IMF has conducted more than 250 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned InfoLine, and in 2001, established the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), a collaborative research initiative focused on improving myeloma treatment options for patients. In 2012, the IMF launched the Black Swan Research Initiative®, a groundbreaking research project aimed at curing myeloma. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is www.myeloma.org. Follow the IMF on Twitter @IMFmyeloma.