Multiple Myeloma: the power of the patient journey

Multiple Myeloma (MM) Awareness Month takes place every March to raise awareness about this uncommon and complex blood cancer that can often be difficult to diagnose in its early stages and challenging to manage, despite advances in treatment. 

MM affects plasma cells, which are a critical component of the immune system, producing antibodies to help fight infections. When these cells become cancerous, they can accumulate in the bone marrow and other parts of the body, leading to a range of symptoms, including bone pain, fatigue, and frequent infections.

The disease is a global health challenge that affects thousands of people every year. In the United States alone, an estimated 35,730 new cases of MM are expected to be diagnosed in 2023, and the disease is responsible for approximately 13,000 deaths annually. Globally, the incidence of MM varies widely, with higher rates in developed countries, including the United States, Europe, and Australia.

Understanding the patient journey 

With a deeper understanding of the complex patient journey, healthcare providers and life sciences companies can gain valuable insights into the patient experience, which can inform decision-making around treatment options and help identify areas for improvement in care delivery. The use of longitudinal patient data is critical in doing this, particularly to help bring deeper understanding around treatment regimen and patient outcomes lending key insights into persistence, time to relapse, and more.

Treating MM often involves a combination of chemotherapy, targeted therapies and stem cell transplantation. The specific treatment approach depends on a range of factors, including the stage and severity of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and the presence of any other underlying medical conditions.

New treatments for MM have improved response rates and survival for patients, but the disease is still difficult to treat due to relapses, treatment toxicity, and cytogenetic complexity.

Relapsed/refractory patients often require complex treatments that produce confoundingly poorer outcomes compared to newly diagnosed patients. Certain patient subgroups, such as those with extramedullary disease and comorbidities, remain undertreated and have an unfavorable prognosis.

The variety of treatment options available means a wide range of patient journeys can be observed. However, there are patterns. In the past decade, monoclonal antibodies have emerged as a key innovation in MM management. Daratumumab was the first monoclonal antibody to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has demonstrated efficacy across several indications, both among newly-diagnosed and refractory patients. Since its introduction to the US, its market share has increased over time (Figure 1).

It’s also possible to see growth in the use of certain treatments at increasingly earlier stages of the disease. Real world findings suggest that daratumumab-based regimens are an effective treatment option across all lines of therapy, with the highest utilisation observed in Line 1.

By understanding current care pathways for MM (Figure 2), patient-centric intelligence can help support the rapid adoption of best available treatments into routine clinical practice by identifying areas of unmet need.

For example, there is a clear variation in the uptake of monoclonal antibodies in the frontline setting sub-nationally (Figure 3).

These precise and action-oriented insights can be used to direct education and support services to ensure that patients are receiving the care that is best suited to their needs.

The Multiple Myeloma patient journey – rapidly improving, always changing

With ongoing research and development efforts, innovative treatments such as immunotherapy and precision medicine approaches are showing great promise. There is genuine cause to be optimistic that increasingly positive patient outcomes will become the norm. However, adoption of novel treatments can vary across regions as well as among clinicians, hindering patient access to the right care at the right time. 

In this rapidly evolving treatment landscape, longitudinal patient-level data on complex diseases with complex patient journeys, such as MM, can provide leading indicators and insights into the real-world adoption of treatments and care pathways. With this information, clinicians and researchers can better identify areas of unmet need. In the fight against MM, these patient journey insights are more important than ever, as new treatments and therapies continue to emerge. And the ability to keep up with these changes will be key.

Speak to Prospection today to learn more about giving your teams a 360-degree view of the patient journey so they can grow their impact in the fight against MM and other diseases.

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