Multiple Myeloma

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Participate in a Study

UW Medicine physicians who practice at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) are leaders in myeloma research and treatment. Physician-researchers from SCCA parent organizations UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) constantly look for new and better ways to advance myeloma care and provide breakthroughs in treatment.

SCCA was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. For multiple myeloma patients this means more treatment options at SCCA than might be found elsewhere. Many of our patients receive such therapies by taking part in one of many ongoing clinical research studies conducted here.

Not all patients enter remission with the standard therapies used for myeloma, and some standard treatments may have more side effects than are desired; therefore, patients may seek help through a clinical trial. Patients who participate in clinical trials have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about the disease.

Kinds of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials for myeloma typically focus on one or more of these main goals:

  • Achieving remission for more patients
  • Extending remission 
  • Reducing the side effects of treatment
  • Treating patients with relapsed or refractory myeloma

Clinical trials come in four phases. In Phase I trials, researchers try to determine safe dose levels. In Phase II trials, which involve a larger group of patients, researchers hope to build on what they learned in the first phase by trying to establish whether cancers will respond to the safe dose levels and to determine what side effects will occur. In Phase III trials, researchers compare the experimental treatment with the standard treatment or a placebo to prove whether the new treatment is truly effective. In Phase IV trials, researchers monitor the effects of long-term usage.

Finding Clinical Trials

There are many trials underway regarding the treatment of multiple myeloma. Ask your doctor about them. Each trial is designed for a precise disease situation, so there are specific criteria for patients to join the trial.

It can be confusing to sort through lists of trials, which may contain a lot of unfamiliar, technical information. Ask your doctor to tell you about trials that might apply to your situation.

If you are not yet a patient at SCCA and would like to know whether we have any trials that you might be able to take part in, you can also ask your doctor to call us to discuss this. Some of our trials are multi-center studies, which means you may be able to participate while still receiving treatment from your doctor in your home community.

Listen to SCCA's Medical Director, Dr. F. Marc Stewart, as he speaks about Clinical Trials: Myths and Facts, in a recent Patient Power interview. To play the interview, download an MP3 version or read the transcript, click here.