NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2022 – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) today announced that it is collaborating with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York City to launch M-Power New York—a program designed to empower people to change the course of myeloma by removing barriers to early diagnosis and treatment in the Black community. The collaboration will kick off with a free online workshop on October 1 that will offer New Yorkers information about multiple myeloma.
The IMF is also working with MSK's Office of Health Equity to enlist local leaders and healthcare professionals in promoting increased knowledge about this treatable but little-known disease.
"Patient education and advocacy for patients' rights to health equity are critical to ensuring that the Black community is well-represented in clinical trials and that they have access to proper care and treatment. The IMF is committed to both—we are truly delighted to be partnering with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Care team, led by myeloma expert Dr. Saad Usmani," says IMF Patient, President & CEO Yelak Biru.
"We are pleased to partner with the International Myeloma Foundation to launch M-Power New York, a program that follows the model used to help close the multiple myeloma disparities gap in other cities around the country," said Saad Usmani, MD, Chief of MSK's Myeloma Service. "This collaboration will help support MSK's commitment to identifying and addressing the cancer care access and outcomes disparities faced by Black New Yorkers diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and we are looking forward to connecting with this community at our first educational workshop in October."
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood plasma cells. According to the latest data from the National Cancer Institute's SEER program, an estimated 34,470 new myeloma cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. Of these new cases, the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts and Figures for African American/Black People 2022-2024 estimates that 7,810 will be in Black Americans.
The incidence of multiple myeloma among people of African descent is more than two times higher compared to white people, with median age younger by three years (i.e., age 66 among Black people, age 70 among white people).
The good news is early detection and access to treatment can significantly improve survival and outcomes within the Black community. Getting a myeloma diagnosis as early as possible and treating the disease before it progresses is the key to improving survival, according to IMF Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Mikhael.
"The latest research data show that Black myeloma patients do just as well, or even better than white patients, when barriers to early diagnosis and treatment are eliminated. These findings have been our organization's call to action," says Dr. Mikhael.
Additionally, Dr. Mikhael emphasizes that doctors do not typically check patients for myeloma during a regular visit because currently, there are no national screening recommendations for myeloma.
"That's why it is so important for Black people to learn about the early symptoms of myeloma and to let their doctors know that they are at higher risk for the disease during regular check-ups," advises Dr. Mikhael.
The M-Power New York Project launch will include:
- A dedicated M-Power New York website to make it easier for people to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of the disease and the latest treatments. The site offers digital, video and print educational materials; a tip card with key information to help facilitate conversations between patients and doctors; and a directory of local area support groups.
- A FREE Virtual M-Power New York Webinar on Saturday, October 1, hosted by Dr. Mikhael and featuring a panel of leading myeloma experts, including Dr. Saad Usmani (Memorial Sloan Kettering – New York, NY) and IMF Nurse Leadership Board (NLB) Member and MSK nurse Amy E. Pierre, RN, MSN, ANP-BC.
- During the webinar, members of the New York Tri-state community will learn more about "Why Race Matters in Myeloma Care & Survival," symptoms and available treatments, and how to access support needed to navigate cancer. Additionally, an interview with patient-caregiver couple Terrence and Toni Green will reveal the struggles they went through after diagnosis and will highlight the importance of accessing proper care.
Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in October 2014 at age 61, Terrence calls attention to the importance of educating Black communities about the disease, especially because of their general distrust.
"Sometimes, there's just a fear of going to the doctor. I am glad that they're putting some emphasis there, because along with creating this, there's a communications element which is very helpful to put the knowledge out there, and just the foresight to think about, 'how do we get this information to a community?' which, quite frankly, we know from COVID, we're not that trusting in terms of things like that, given what has happened in the past, so I'm glad they have that, " said Terrence.
Toni firmly believes that Black people need access to good doctors. "Not just any doctor, because any doctor may not be able to determine or catch this disease, and if they do, they may be catching it too late," Toni emphasized. "They need good medical treatment. They need information about myeloma once they're diagnosed, and they need to be provided with resources. Make sure they know that resources are available after they're diagnosed because it's expensive. No doubt."
ABOUT THE M-POWER PROJECT
Partnering with cities across the U.S., the International Myeloma Foundation's (IMF) M-Power Project aims to turn the core vision of the IMF Diversity Initiative into a reality: improving the short- and long-term outcomes of African American patients with multiple myeloma. By raising myeloma awareness and empowering healthcare professionals, community leaders, neighborhoods, and families, the M-Power Project aims to break down barriers for the African American myeloma community.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
Founded in 1990, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is the first and largest foundation focusing specifically on multiple myeloma. The Foundation's reach extends to more than 525,000 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.
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