September 16, 2015, Beijing – Today marks the beginning of Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.’s (hereafter referred to as Xian Janssen) “MM Action” campaign in Beijing, a disease awareness campaign aiming to raising awareness of multiple myeloma (MM) among the public. The purpose of the campaign is to encourage patients to seek out hematologists for early diagnosis and standardized treatment, in order to prolong life and improve quality of life.?
Raise Awareness of Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a common cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Its incidence – between one and two in 100,000 – is higher than that of acute leukemia, making MM the second most common type of blood cancer .?
Associate Professor Jian Li of Peking Union Medical College Hospital’s Hematology Department points out that, “The median age of onset in multiple myeloma patients is 59. With China’s aging population, the incidence rate of multiple myeloma will also increase. It is worth noticing that in recent years the disease has also trended toward presenting in younger patients, with the patient in one clinical case barely 20 years old. Multiple myeloma has gradually become a common blood cancer.”
Seek Out a Hematologist for Early Diagnosis and Treatment
Due to low awareness, nearly two-thirds of patients receive their diagnosis when MM has already reached an advanced stage . Since the main symptoms of multiple myeloma are calcemia, renal insufficiency, anemia and bone disease (presenting as bone pain and pathologic fracture), patients often visit departments such as orthopedics or nephrology rather than hematology, contributing to a high misdiagnosis rate.
Experts recommend that when patients present with any symptoms of multiple myeloma they should also visit the hematology clinic, for the earliest possible detection and effective control of the disease.
Promote the Multi-Disciplinary Team Model for Multiple Myeloma
Early and accurate diagnosis also depends on the application of a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) model in clinical practice. Professor Jin Lu from Peking University’s Institute of Hematology stresses, “It involves doctors from orthopedics, nephrology and other departments working together to help improve accurate diagnosis and clinical referral rates.” As of 2015, several medical institutions have already set up multi-disciplinary teams for multiple myeloma in Beijing and Shanghai.
Call for Standardized Treatment of Multiple Myeloma
Professor Wenming Chen from the Department of Hematology at Chaoyang Hospital points out that besides early diagnosis, another important factor for treatment is improving patients’ compliance with medication and having standardized treatment of the right dosage and duration. The VISTA study ?has shown that 84% of patients received the maximum effect of treatment with an 8 course (24 week) treatment, while the remaining patients (16%) required a longer course for maximum effect. ?
The 2013 edition of the China Diagnosis and Treatment Guidelines for Multiple Myeloma and the 2015 edition of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) ?Guidelines for Multiple Myeloma recommend a combined regimen with Bortezomib for the treatment of MM.
With the rising incidence of MM in China, multiple myeloma is receiving more and more attention. The Qingdao municipal government’s Serious Illness Medical Assistance Policy now includes therapeutic drugs for the treatment of MM, and some patients have also benefited from the Patient Assistance Program initiated by the China Cancer Foundation to help reduce their financial burdens.?
Jenny Zheng, vice president of Xian Janssen said, “Xian Janssen has been committed to promoting the development in China of blood cancer treatment. In addition to the introduction of innovative medicines to meet patients’ treatment needs, we are also committed to educating the public about this disease in order to improve understanding of multiple myeloma, to further improve the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, and improve patient outcomes.”?
In 2015, the “MM Action” campaign will include the promulgation of a report entitled Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Myeloma in China: Past, Present and Future which will help healthcare professionals better understand MM, a feature page on Haodf.com, ?an HTML5 game and disease introduction video to support patient education programs across the country.