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Fox Chase Cancer Center Offers New Study for Patients with Multiple Myeloma

PHILADELPHIA (March 1, 2000) -- Doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center hope a new clinical trial for patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma will help them live longer and reduce side effects from the standard chemotherapy.

An estimated 13,700 Americans will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma this year. About 11,400 Americans are expected to die of the disease. Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells, which are an important part of the immune system. It multiplies and spreads throughout the bone marrow.

Dr. Russell Schilder, principal investigator of the Fox Chase Cancer Center study explained, "We now have an effective agent (dexamethasone) in fighting multiple myeloma. However, research suggests that we can improve response rate by combining dexamethasone with another drug, 13-cis-retinoic acid."

"This combination of drugs also appears to reduce the side effects of standard chemotherapy. There is no hair loss, suppression of blood counts and much less nausea. It is taken orally which is more convenient for patients," Dr. Schilder continued.

Although researchers do not know exactly what causes multiple myeloma, age appears to be a significant risk factor. The average age at diagnosis is about 70. Only 2 percent of cases are diagnosed in people younger than 40. In addition, multiple myeloma is about twice as common among African Americans as white Americans, but the reason is not known.

Unfortunately, multiple myeloma does not typically cause symptoms until after it has reached an advanced stage and can be difficult to detect early. Symptoms may include bone pain, osteoporosis, bone fractures, anemia, as well as severe pain, numbness and/or weakness of arms and legs.

To learn more about this study, please call Fox Chase Cancer Center at 1-888-FOX CHASE.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at:

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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