Multiple Myeloma: A danger to public health in Mexico
The MM mostly attacks the elderly. It starts in the bone marrow and it is one of the most common tumors to develop through the bloodstream after lymphoma - Photo: Tom Deerinck/AP

Multiple Myeloma: A danger to public health in Mexico

05/09/2018
15:36
Daniela Payán Escobar
Mexico City
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Multiple Myeloma is a type of fast-acting cancer that is very expensive to treat. In Mexico, there are 10,000 new patients every year

Today is the World Day against Multiple Myeloma (MM), a type of cancer that started showing an upturn in Mexico 10 years ago and is now likely to become a disease that represents catastrophic public health expenses in the country.

The MM “mostly attacks the elderly. It starts in the bone marrow and it is one of the most common tumors to develop through the bloodstream after lymphoma; however, not many people know about it.” In the United States, there are around 30,000 new cases every year. Extrapolating this trend, in Mexico there should be between 7 and 10 thousand new patients every year, according to the investigator Rafael Fonseca.

“When I started studying medicine, multiple myeloma was considered an incurable illness with a life expectancy of barely two years after the diagnose,” the doctor added, telling that he started studying hematology and oncology in 1998, at the Faculty of Medicine in the Mayo Clinic.

A bone marrow transplant used to be the only therapeutic solution for patients with MM. Besides that, it was treated with melphalan, prednisone, radiation treatments, and other old drugs that offered a minimal extension of the patient’s life expectancy.

“Therefore, mortality was of almost 100%. A transplant is still a very good option, but not everyone has access to this type of intervention, since it is only made in the capital and other big cities. It is even likely that many people have died without even knowing that they had multiple myeloma,” claimed the doctor Ramiro Espinoza, head of the multiple myeloma clinic at the National Institute of Cancerology (INCAN).

Since the government has not yet acknowledged multiple myeloma as an illness that represents a very expensive treatment, the INCAN has filed a request for Mexico’s Public Health institutions to give it the importance it deserves.
 

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