Kimberly Blozie Kimberly Blozie

How to choose the best cancer hospital to treat multiple myeloma

Multiple Myeloma is a complex and changing disease.

Stage, severity, treatment naive, resistance to particular treatments, availability of recently approved treatments, availability of clinical trials, general wellness, diet restrictions, location of the nearest treatment facility, insurance or lack thereof, all play a part in choosing the best treatment for your MM.

I’ve put together a one part listing, one part algorithm to help you choose the best facility to treat your MM:

Location

This is probably going to be your limiting factor.

If you are restricted to hospitals and treatment centers near you, chances are, you live near one great one. Maybe it is an academic medical center or a large, state run hospital.  These are going to be your best options. If you live near more than one, then keep reading for how to arrive at the best one for you.

Finances/Insurance

Money and medical insurance (or lack thereof) are going to be another major limiting factor. If you have medical insurance, you need to be sure that the specialist or oncologist that you settle on accepts it. (more on locating MM specialists in following sections)

If you have no insurance, most state run hospitals offer free care or financial aid to. They are located in major cities so which ever is closest to you is going to be your best bet.  You should call the hospital before you go to ensure what the eligibility criteria are to receive financial aid.

MM specific points of care

With location and finances out of the way, how well can a facility handle and treat people with multiple myeloma?

  • Here is a listing of things to look for when evaluating a site:
  • Is there a multiple myeloma section on their website?
    • Is it a subsection of a Hematology/Oncology site or does it have its own page?
  • How many doctors/specialists are listed as mm specialists
  • Is there a designated mm radiologist?
  • Are there statistics listed on their site?
    • # stem cell transplants performed/year
    • # stem cell transplants performed on people over the age of 65
    • # relapsed patients they treat
    • How many patients they see/year
  • Are MM clinical trials offered
  • Do they conduct their own research?

Here are a few of the best sites (location and finances excluded) that I was ale to research across the US using my listing methodology.

Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy (at the university of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Fayetteville, AK)

  • 9 specialists
  • Founded in 1989
  • They’ve seen more than 9k patients
  • 8K peripheral stem cell transplants
  • Offers Gene Array Analysis
  • Safely transplants age 70+

MD Anderson (located in Houston, TX)

  • 6 specialists
  • 2 radiation therapists
  • Many novel treatment options offered:
    • Monoclonal antibodies
    • Cytokine therapy
    • Liposomal drug delivery
    • Anti-angiogenesis
    • Management of unusual or difficult cases
    • And others

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (located in New York, NY)

  • 12 specialists
  • 1 radiation therapist
  • More than 99 percent of myeloma patients who receive transplants at Memorial Sloan-Kettering survive the most dangerous period following the procedure, which is the first 100 days.
  • Offer clinical trials
  • Offer serum-free light-chain assay
  • Expertise in amyloidosis

Dana Farber Cancer Institute (located in Boston, MA)

  • 10 MM specialists
  • One of the largest and most experienced hematopoietic stem cell transplantation program in the world
  • Lots of treatment options (full list here)
    • Targeted therapy
    • Plasmapheresis
  • They also offer clinical trials

The Myeloma Beacon has a very comprehensive listing of facilities that treat multiple myeloma. Although they are not ranked and there is only contact information offered

- Listing of other sites on the Myeloma Beacon:

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  3. Stem Cell and Umblical Cord Transplantation as Treatments for Multiple Myeloma
  4. Lenalidomide (Revlimid) plus Dexamethasone can Delay Progression of Smoldering Myeloma to Active Multiple Myeloma
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