NICE is developing a guideline to help the NHS provide consistently excellent care for people over the age of 16 in England with myeloma. This type of cancer affects the body’s plasma cells found in bone marrow. It encourages the production of faulty cells, which stops the body’s immune system from working properly. A person with myeloma will be more susceptible to infections and is likely to experience symptoms such as pain, bone disease, kidney damage, anaemia and fatigue.
Professor Mark Baker, clinical practice director for NICE, said: “Although myeloma is a relatively uncommon disease, rates are increasing. The problem is that this condition doesn’t have any obvious symptoms so it can be hard for both a doctor and the person to detect.
“Advances in treatment over the last 15 years have seen more people with myeloma living longer, but there is still no cure. Our guideline, which is being developed by an independent group of experts, will set out best practice care to ensure people live as normal a life as possible for as long as possible.”
The institute’s provisional recommendations, which have been published for public consultation, include:
- Communication and support: Offering prompt psychological assessment and support to people with myeloma at diagnosis and, as appropriate, at the beginning and end of each treatment, whenever the disease begins to get worse despite treatment (disease progression) and when people start to require end of life care.
- Laboratory investigations to diagnose myeloma: For people with suspected myeloma, healthcare professionals should use the same sample for all diagnostic and prognostic tests on bone marrow, so people only have to have one biopsy.
- Scans for people with suspected myeloma: Offering imaging to all people with a plasma cell disorder suspected to be myeloma. Doctors should consider whole-body MRI as the first imaging procedure.
- Service delivery: Each hospital treating people with myeloma who are over the age of 18, should ensure there is regional access to facilities for intensive inpatient chemotherapy or transplantation; renal support; spinal disease management; specialised pain management; therapeutic apheresis; radiotherapy; restorative dentistry and oral surgery; clinical trials, in particular early phase trials.
- Managing complications: Healthcare professionals should consider extending the pneumococcal vaccination to people with myeloma who are under 65 in order to prevent infection.
The draft guideline also complements existing NICE guidance on the drug treatment of myeloma. It sets out which treatments – including stem cell transplants – should be used to manage the condition as well as those to prevent and treat bone disease and acute renal disease, which can be caused by the cancer.
For more information call the NICE press office on 0300 323 0142 or out of hours on 07775 583 813.
Notes to Editors
About the guidance
- The guideline is aimed at commissioners and healthcare professionals in hospitals and other specialist settings specialist hospitals, as well as people with myeloma and their families and carers,
- The public consultation will remain open until Thursday 1 October 2015.
- Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells which are found in the body’s bone marrow. These cells normally produce antibodies which help the body to fight illnesses, but myeloma stops these antibodies from working properly. A person with myeloma will be more susceptible to infections and is likely to experience symptoms such as pain, bone disease, kidney damage, anaemia and fatigue.
Myeloma facts and figures
- 4,039 people in England were diagnosed with myeloma during 2011.
- Data for England shows that myeloma is almost twice as common in black people as in white and Asian people.
- According to Cancer Research UK, almost 50% of people with myeloma in England and Wales will survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis and 3 in 10 people will survive for 10 years or more.
For more statistics relating to myeloma, visit the Cancer Research UK website.