Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients

You’ve been newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Now what? 

A blood cancer diagnosis like multiple myeloma can leave you feeling overwhelmed and full of questions. We hope this guide can help ease your mind a little and provide you with enough information to prepare for your first appointment with the medical oncologist who will create a treatment plan for you. 

Different types and subtypes of multiple myeloma exist, which are based on the immunoglobulin (protein) produced by the myeloma cell. Your doctor will be able to tell you more about your specific type and how it will affect the kind of treatment you receive.

What Kind of Doctor Will I See? 

Your myeloma diagnosis may have come from your primary care physician (PCP) or another doctor who cared for you when you noticed symptoms. However, you’ll need to see a medical oncologist or hematologist for cancer treatment. 

Oncology is the medical study of cancer, and a medical oncologist is a doctor of oncology specializing in cancer care, including treatments. Hematology is the branch of medicine focused on blood diseases, and a hematologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of blood diseases. 

Most medical oncologists are also hematologists and fully qualified to care for multiple myeloma patients. As a patient of Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, your physician will spend time with you and your family to understand your specific situation. 

Once your hematologist-oncologist has learned more about your specific diagnosis, he/she will consult with you and the rest of your care team to develop a personalized treatment plan. Your care team might include additional specialists, such as: 

  • Radiation oncologist
  • Orthopedic surgeon
  • Bone marrow transplant specialist 

You might have many other specialists on your treatment team as well, including physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, social workers, and other health professionals. 

What is Multiple Myeloma? 

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow, specifically in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). Myeloma begins when healthy plasma cells change and grow out of control. This may result in multiple bone lesions that increase the risk of bone fractures, hence the phrase “multiple myeloma.” 

Multiple myeloma affects the places where bone marrow is active in an adult. The bones of the spine, skull, pelvis, rib cage and the areas around the shoulders and hips are the most common sites to be affected. 

Keep a Notebook 

After a multiple myeloma diagnosis, a lot of information will be coming your way from your cancer care team— much of which can be hard to remember. Therefore, before meeting your oncologist, we recommend that you determine the best way to write it down. For some, a notebook for notes and a folder for paperwork is best. For others, the “notes” feature on their smartphone is enough. Pick what works best for you and then be diligent at using it. 

You should start taking notes as soon as you’re diagnosed, regardless of what type of medical professional you are seeing. Keep track of any questions, dates, medicine schedules, and how you are feeling. All of this important information will be helpful to your cancer care team.

Your First Oncology Appointment

During your first appointment, there will be a lot of information reviewed, and it can be hard to process everything if you’re alone. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a relative or friend along. Read our recommendations on preparing for your first visit at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center.

Here are some questions to consider when meeting your medical oncologist /hematologist: 

  • Where is the cancer located? Has it spread?  
  • What is the stage (extent) of my cancer? What does that mean? 
  • What types of cancer treatment will be included in my treatment plan?
  • Will I need surgery?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment? Is there anything I can do to reduce or manage them? 
  • How will the treatment affect my daily life? What adjustments, if any, should I make? 
  • Is a clinical trial an option for me?  
  • If I’m worried about managing the costs of cancer care, who can help me?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?
  • Whom should I call with questions or problems?
  • How soon do I have to make a decision regarding treatment?

Are there Clinical Trials for Multiple Myeloma?

Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center is fortunate to be a member of The US Oncology Network, one of the nation’s most extensive community-based cancer treatment and research networks. Through our partnership with The US Oncology Network, we can provide many investigational drugs through clinical trials, so that patients have access to treatment options that are not fully available to everyone yet. We are currently offering multiple trials for eligible blood cancer patients, including those with multiple myeloma. Learn more and view open myeloma clinical trials in our area. Be sure to ask your physician if any current trials are a good fit for you.

Should I Get a Second Opinion About My Cancer Diagnosis?

It’s important that you feel confident about your diagnosis. Therefore, you may want to get a second opinion before beginning any treatment plan. At WVCI, our oncologists provide many second opinions— for all types of cancer diagnoses and treatment plans. Most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but you should always check with your insurance provider to check your coverage before making an appointment.

To schedule a second opinion with one of our physicians, please choose the location that is convenient for you and call our office to make an appointment. WVCI has offices located in the Corvallis, Eugene, and Florence areas. 

You Are Not Alone 

At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, we understand this is a difficult time. However, you can do this, and the WVCI team of physicians and cancer care specialists are ready to help you every step of the way. You might also find comfort by visiting our Resources page. You can also check out our list of support groups that you may find helpful.

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