What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer (malignancy) of plasma cells where the body makes too many cancerous and more or less identical plasma cells.

The physicians at the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute (CBCI) specialize in the care of patients with multiple myeloma, amyloidosis and related plasma cell disorders and see only those kinds of patients.

The Colorado Blood Cancer Institute (CBCI) physicians are at the forefront of developing and testing new treatments for multiple myeloma.

Our physician team, led by co-directors Dr. Jeffrey Matous and Dr. Tara Gregory, is nationally recognized for their work and leadership in myeloma and amyloidosis treatment and research. We care for patients at every stage of the disease -- from MGUS to smoldering myeloma and all phases of myeloma requiring treatment -- the newly diagnosed patient, patients requiring transplants, patients with relapsed myeloma and those in need or interested in clinical trials.

We have transplanted more than 1000 myeloma patients making us the largest myeloma treatment program in our region. We work with other regional cancer specialists, coordinating care and providing second opinions. For amyloidosis patients, we have access to the most innovative clinical trials and specialized expertise in this rare disease.

Most, if not all, patients who develop myeloma have a pre-myeloma condition known as MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance). MGUS is quite common, especially in older people where as many as three to five percent of people over 70-80 years have it. MGUS usually does not turn into myeloma. People with MGUS have roughly a one percent per year risk of developing myeloma. However, virtually all patients with myeloma had MGUS before, but most probably did not know it. There is no treatment for MGUS, however it should be monitored on a regular basis by a physician.

Multiple myeloma treatment options

Many different types of treatment are available for patients with multiple myeloma. The treatments are changing nearly every year with advances in knowledge from clinical research. Unfortunately, multiple myeloma is still felt, with rare exception, to be an incurable cancer. However, in most cases, it is highly treatable. Twenty to thirty years ago, half of all people diagnosed with myeloma were dead by 30 months. Now, most patients (except for those patients diagnosed with particularly nasty and aggressive forms of myeloma) are living much longer, often more than eight to 10 years. Clinical trials are underway to improve current treatments and develop new treatments. The prognosis (chances of recovery) and treatment options depend on the patient's age, the disease's stage, the chromosome changes, and the patient’s general health and symptoms.

The myeloma program at CBCI has been directly involved in developing and approving virtually all the most important myeloma treatments through clinical trials.

Standard treatments for multiple myeloma:

  • We do not treat MGUS.
  • Smoldering or asymptomatic myeloma is only treated in clinical trials since we do not know if treatment really is necessary.
  • We treat ALL patients with symptomatic myeloma with chemotherapy
  • Five new drugs (idecabtagene vicleucel, ciltacabtagene autoleucel, teclistamab, erlantamab, talquetamab) have been FDA approved since 2020 as well as new combinations of previously available therapies.
  • There are many different types and combinations of chemotherapy, and treatment is usually tailored to the patient
  • Younger, more vigorous patients are often treated differently than older or more frail patients
  • Bone strengthening medicines are very often used (pamidronate, zoledronic acid)
  • High-dose chemotherapy with autologous transplantation is used in more vigorous patients, often after the first several months of standard chemotherapy, and remain a standard treatment
  • Allogeneic transplants (using donor cells, more aggressive and potentially dangerous, but can be highly effective is sometimes offered to younger patients)
  • Radiation therapy to bone lesions
  • Kyphoplasty for compression fractures of the spine
  • Plasmapheresis for a few patients with severe kidney problems

Clinical trials testing new treatments and new chemotherapy drugs are very important. CBCI is proud to offer eligible patients the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials and can be discussed with your physician at CBCI.

What sets CBCI apart from the rest?

  • More than 150 combined years of experience
  • Clinical trials
  • Pathways for treatment
  • Pharmacy services
  • Primary navigator
  • Nutrition services
  • Psychosocial support services

Conditions we treat:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Newly diagnosed myeloma
  • Relapsed myeloma
  • Smoldering myeloma
  • MGUS (Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance)
  • Light-chain deposition disease
  • Second opinions

To schedule an appointment to see one of our experts, call (720) 754-4835

Support groups for multiple myeloma and amyloidosis