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The impact of advanced myeloma on physical and mental health

This project was conducted between 2007-2011.

Aim of project

The aim of this study was to look at physical health, psychological wellbeing, and quality of life in patients with advanced but stable myeloma who had received a transplant.

Project summary

“Late effects” are consequences of cancer, and cancer treatment, that manifest either during or after cancer treatment and persist beyond the need of treatment. In managing advanced myeloma, patients are compromised due to complications related to myeloma and complications related to treatment.

In this project, 33 patients who had received a transplant and had had at least one more treatment completed a physical examination, questionnaires, and an interview. It was found that many patients had hormone deficiencies, with low testosterone in some men, and low thyroid activity in others. Furthermore, restrictions on physical and social activities due to fatigue, pain and mobility problems were found, even when myeloma was ‘inactive’ and patients were off active treatments. These problems also had knock-on effects on patients’ quality of life, as well as employment.

Patients were generally satisfied with their care. However, the findings suggest that there is a need for psychological support alongside clinical follow ups to assist with concerns that patients develop following the diagnosis, treatment and progression of myeloma. This project found that patients adopted a variety of coping methods in order to adapt to their illness. Patients highlighted the importance of having the right attitude or frame of mind, and keeping busy as much as possible. Also, making the most of what they were able to do, not getting upset about things they were unable do, and being realistic about the future were seen to be important for adjustment.

Who was involved with the project

The principal investigator was Dr Snowden, a consultant and honorary Reader in the Department of Haematology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals/University of Sheffield. Dr Greenfield, Professor Eiser, and Professor Ahmedzai on behalf of the Late Effects Group at the University of Sheffield were co-investigators on the project.

How this project will help Myeloma patients

The information from this project will be potentially helpful in designing models for comprehensive care in myeloma, and will also provide a basis for future studies for improving outcomes.

Acknowledgements and funding

Myeloma UK funded this project with the Richard Townley Research Grant.

Outputs

This work was presented at academic conferences and was published in an academic journal. You can read the report here.