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After the COVID-19 pandemic broadened usage of telehealth, patients with myeloma now have more access to experts in their disease.
Patients with multiple myeloma should seek the opinion of a myeloma specialist, and the COVID-19 pandemic helped more people do that, according to Dr. Dikran Kazandjian, a professor of medicine in the division of hematology at the University of Miami Health System.
“If I could give just one takeaway, I would say that the most important thing is to find a myeloma expert,” Kazandjian said in an interview with CURE®. “There’s a lot of details, a lot of intricacies. … The more myeloma patients a doctor sees, the more experience they’re going to have in it, and I think in the end, that might translate to better outcomes. For sure, it won’t make (anything) worse.”
Myeloma is a “relatively rare” cancer of the plasma cells, according to the American Cancer Society, which reported that there are approximately 35,730 new diagnoses of the disease yearly.
Kazandjian explained that the COVID-19 pandemic vastly expanded the use of telehealth. With that, patients who do not live near a center with myeloma experts can still have these specialists consult them on their disease. In fact, they may even work alongside their local clinicians to determine a treatment plan and ensure the best possible care.
READ MORE: It Takes Teamwork to Treat Myeloma, and Patients Are Key Players
Our health care system in the U.S. is different where it's very community focused, unlike, for example, Europe where it's very primary center, metropolitan focused.
That being said, I have patients who travel two hours so they can see a myeloma expert. If that's something that's doable, that should be done. But I always say even if that's not doable, always get a second opinion, maybe even sighs a third opinion from a myeloma center (is important).
So the one good thing that COVID established for the community is a lot more use of telehealth services. So there's no reason why a patient can’t get a second opinion from (a) myeloma expert by telehealth and in many cases, you know, like for example, my patients they may have me follow on along with their primary oncologist directing the therapy. And so we can definitely establish relationships like that, so that patients can get the best care and, at the same time, be able to not have to relocate or travel very long distances.
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