Hearing the word, ‘cancer’ at the doctor’s office is at the top of the list of everyone’s worst fears. It’s hard to discern what is true and what is important when all you really want to know is the most feared question: “What is my probability of survival?” Hopefully this article will help guide you through the medical jargon to know what really matters.
What to Expect With Multiple Myeloma
Let’s start at the beginning - what exactly is multiple myeloma? It’s a type of cancer that attacks plasma cells, or white blood cells, in bone marrow. Patients with this awful disease can expect brittle bones, kidney problems, and a lowered immune system. Being that white blood cells are the very things in your body that fight off illness, your body might find it difficult to protect itself from common ailments. Easily broken bones and kidney failure are also highly possible for patients with the disease.
How Long Do I Have?
It’s the question you want to know more than anything, but it’s the question that you just can’t seem to ask. Most of the information you find on the subject will give you the median survival rate, which is the time it took half of the patients to die. Keep in mind, some patients lived long, healthy lives. If you see that three years is the average life expectancy, don’t think that means you have between one and four years to live. The median survival rates for patients with multiple myeloma vary between two and five years (two for stage three, three to four for stage two, and five years for stage one), but please read on. Things are not as bleak as all that.
Hope Is On the Horizon
While all studies show that the majority of patients won’t last five years, hope is growing brighter by the day. Over the past eighteen years, survival rates have shown a steady increase in one percent per year. And the past two years have been revolutionary in the world of cancer treatment. The year 2015 yielded a record number of new drugs approved for treatment of multiple myeloma. All of these drugs have yielded drastic improvements among patients, and their results will likely not show up in survival statistics for a few years to come. Their side effects were minimal in comparison to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. So when you see haunting numbers when researching life expectancy, remember that hope is growing by the day.
Varying Factors in Survival
As most diseases go, younger patients have a higher likelihood of survival. Overall health is always a weapon in your corner, so even if you’ve already been diagnosed, a little exercise and healthy eating could go a long way.
Hope Really Matters
While it might seem whimsical, the power of mental fortitude cannot be overstated. Time and time again, those with a healthy outlook prevail against the odds. While hope might not seem like the medicine you were looking for, it isn’t that far-fetched. With new treatments emerging all the time, hope is more than just wishful thinking.