Understanding the Role of Immunoglobulins in Multiple Myeloma
At CURE’s Educated Patient Summit on Multiple Myeloma Dr. Shebli Atrash had the chance to further discuss with CURE what questions he addresses most when patients with multiple myeloma undergo diagnostic testing.
BY Dr. Shebli Atrash
PUBLISHED December 15, 2019
For patients with multiple myeloma, the treatment journey often begins with questions and trepidation as they start to understand their disease during the long process of diagnostic testing and staging. However, this staging does not need to be a mystery to patients, which is why Shebli Atrash, MD, MS, broke down how diagnostic testing works and what patients can expect from it at CURE’s Educated Patient Summit on Multiple Myeloma, held Dec. 14, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Atrash, from the Levine Cancer Institute plasma cell disorder program, also had the chance to sit down with CURE and discuss in detail the role immunoglobulins play in the presentation of multiple myeloma and how he addresses common questions patients have about them.
Immunoglobulins are proteins, but proteins produced from plasma cells. Plasma cells are the cells that cause multiple myeloma that live inside the bones and they help us fight infections. It's not related to how much protein patients eat, I get this question all the time, it's not produced by the liver it's produced by plasma cells and those proteins, in general, help us treat infections.
However, in multiple myeloma we have only one type of those proteins going up that's why we call it mono-clonal, mono stands for 1, and this type goes up regardless whether we have an infection or not. So, that's where we focus on and we call this a surrogate marker for multiple myeloma burden in the disease. Even so, we still have to see how much plasma cells are still left inside the bone marrow with bone marrow biopsies.