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Multiple Myeloma (MM) remains an incurable condition, with progression and relapse features of a chronic disease course. MM has numerous disease and treatment comorbidities, as well as associated effects on the quality of life and performance scores of patients. Caregivers are fundamental and critical to the care of patients with MM; however, they often experience their own significant challenges.
Here, the Multiple Myeloma Hub summarizes two articles from O’Donnell, et al.1,2 The first was published in Cancer in May 2022, and describes a cross-sectional survey of patients with MM to explore their quality of life, psychological distress, and thoughts on elements of their diagnosis and prognosis.1 The second article was also published in 2022 in Blood Advances and explores the challenges and prognostic perceptions of caregivers to patients with MM.2
Figure 1. Study designs of the patient- and caregiver-focused surveys*
MM, multiple myeloma.
*Data from O’Donnell, et al.1 and O’Donnell, et al.2
Figure 2. Patient psychological distress and prognostic perceptions according to the line of therapy*
PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
*Adapted from O’Donnell, et al.1
Figure 3. Psychological distress and prognostic perceptions according to caregiver–patient dyads*
MM, multiple myeloma; PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
*Adapted from O’Donnell, et al.2
Figure 4. Patient and caregiver perceptions of the goals of treatment compared with that of oncologists’*
*Adapted from O’Donnell, et al.1 and O’Donnell, et al.2
The results of both studies suggest that while there are common themes in the psychological challenges and prognostic understanding of patients with MM and their caregivers, some fundamental differences exist. Caregivers were more prone to anxiety than patients with MM, compared to depression being more common in patients. Caregivers were also more likely to acknowledge the disease was incurable as it progressed.
Relative to the reported treatment goals of oncologists, patients with MM were more likely to report that their treatment goal was cure and extending life was reported to be a primary goal of oncologists to a greater extent than patients, suggesting patient acknowledgement that the disease is incurable is low after their initial diagnosis. This must be considered during conversations with patients with MM and their caregivers both at diagnosis and as the disease progresses because understanding the patient’s prognosis and goals of treatment can have a significant impact on treatment decisions, quality of life, and care.
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