Deciphering Terms

It’s always great to hear about the new drugs that have made their way into the myeloma treatment spectrum. I know all too well that wasn’t the case over ten years ago. There holds a slight glimmer of hope for the future. I recently hosted a multiple myeloma event and upon reviewing certain terms I felt a wave of some un-clarity.

I’ve been on this roller coaster a little close to 13 years and some of the terms thrown my way or within the myeloma community can sometimes go over one’s head. Do you hear of myeloma terms and are unclear what is happening and what is everyone talking about?

What does ASCT mean?

An autologous stem cell transplant uses healthy blood stem cells from your own body to replace your diseased or damaged bone marrow. An autologous stem cell transplant is also called an autologous bone marrow transplant.1

Laymen’s terms: Many people I’ve met refer to this simply as SCT, or stem cell transplant. In a nutshell, our cells are collected and stored (harvested) in case a transplant is needed down the line. Once you and the doctor move forward with this form of treatment (intense chemotherapy) those cells harvested prior are infused back into the bloodstream to rebuild your bone marrow to create new blood cells.

What is CAR T-cell therapy?

Immunotherapy involves genetically modifying T-cells to activate the immune system to recognize and destroy certain cancers. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is also known as CAR T-cell therapy.2

Laymen’s terms: This is new wave immunotherapy that focuses on individual cells rather than all cells, where some of your white cells are removed and treated. The premise is to allow T-cells to recognize antigens at the center of cancer cells and activate them to be capable to kill the cancerous myeloma cells. The treated cells are then re-entered back into the body.

What is CRAB?

The acronym CRAB summarizes the most typical clinical manifestations of multiple myeloma, these being hypercalcemia, renal failure, anemia, and bone disease. CRAB can be used to distinguish between active, symptomatic multiple myeloma, and monoclonal gammopathy of undermined significance or smoldering myeloma.3

Laymen’s terms: CRAB is the usual indicator that tells how and if your myeloma is progressing (active) or stable. It is staged with the four highlights in mind: C = Calcium, high calcium levels mean hypercalcemia which weakens the bones and causes kidney issues, R = Renal, or better known as creatinine elevated numbers are tell-tale signs of possible kidney disease, A = Anemia which alerts to a low hemoglobin level and therefore a lack of iron and red blood cells, that lead to fatigue and dizziness, and B = Bone issues with the bone and usually showcasing lytic lesions, compression fractures, and osteoporosis.

What is a chronic condition?

Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.4

Laymen’s terms: In a nutshell, our condition is a long haul.

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it

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