What to Expect
We are here for you and want you to be as comfortable as possible as you begin your care with us.
Patients will be seen by a hematologist/medical oncologist during their first clinic visit. Hematologists/medical oncologists are physicians specially trained in managing cancer and blood disorders. Patients should know that members of the UNC Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis Program focus their clinical practice and research on patients with those disorders. Physicians from other specialties may also be involved, depending on what needs are identified.
As part of the UNC evaluation, a patient may have additional blood tests either before or after seeing a physician. X-rays, CT, MRI, and/or PET scans may be also ordered. Some patients may be asked to undergo a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy as part of their evaluation. Patients should be prepared to spend up to two or three hours for a full evaluation in the clinic. On rare occasions, we recommend that patients be admitted to the hospital that same day for immediate treatment.
Often appointments are made during the first visit for the patient to return for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and/or evaluation by other specialties.
Following this initial evaluation, a patient may be asked to return at a later date to discuss the results of testing and next steps.
Arrangements may be made for the patient to meet support service providers. These might include a social worker, a financial counselor, a chaplain, a patient counselor, or a nutritionist, depending on the patient’s needs and interests. These health care professionals are readily available to assist patients with their needs and concerns throughout their care at UNC. Patients will have an opportunity to visit the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program where they can obtain information about their diagnosis and learn about support groups and resources for individuals with cancer.
Managing Your Condition
Multiple myeloma, amyloidosis and related disorders can be very different from each other. Thus, there are a number of possible management options for your condition. These may include:
- Careful observation over time
- Treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy alone
- Bone marrow transplantation
- New therapies and drugs offered through clinical trials
Patients can often be considered for treatment with new drugs and unique combinations of therapies offered through clinical trials. These trials are treatment plans that are carried out in a carefully designed and organized fashion with close monitoring of the results.
Evaluations by the UNC multiple myeloma and amyloidosis team are comprehensive and include consideration of the full spectrum of the most modern and effective, standard clinical treatments as well as clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies in patients that study new drugs and new combinations of drugs, often with the goals of improving quality of life, reducing treatment-related side effects, increasing survival, and, hopefully someday finding cures. Our program offers cutting edge trials as part of what we do. Though these trials are not for everyone, for some patients they offer additional treatment options that are not available elsewhere.
A discussion with team members will lay out these available options to help patients decide upon the best treatment path possible.
Once a treatment path is chosen, some patients will follow that path here at UNC, whereas others may do it with physicians closer to home, under the guidance of the UNC team. This is often the preferred path for patients who live too far away to visit our center regularly.