Robert Lasco can recite the date etched in his memory. It was February 19th in 2013 when his body “just stopped working.” The North Carolina resident was rushed to a nearby hospital where numerous tests and an MRI revealed a tumor on his vertebrae requiring emergency surgery.

“When I woke from the surgery I was left paralyzed from my waist down and told I had a cancer called multiple myeloma,” Lasco recalled. Although he had a family history of cancer, multiple myeloma was a disease totally off his radar. “When you think of cancer you think of colon, lung or brain cancer, but multiple myeloma? What is that?”

He wasn’t alone in his lack of knowledge about multiple myeloma, which doesn’t garner the attention of other cancers.

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a rare, aggressive and complex blood cancer that is formed by malignant plasma cells, which grow out of control and produce tumors in the bone.1 The disease often causes no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, making it a difficult cancer to detect early.1

Multiple myeloma is also an incurable disease, characterized by a recurring pattern of remission and relapse.2,3 Robert was no exception. After going into remission following radiation, the decision was made to undergo a stem cell transplant. Sadly, as is almost always the case with this disease, in December of 2015 he found out his cancer had returned/relapsed.

“‘You don’t have to walk with multiple myeloma by yourself.’”

“I broke down crying and was overwhelmed, especially since I had learned in support groups that when it comes back, it is more aggressive,” recalled his wife Sharon. “I thought it was a death sentence, but the doctors said not to worry and that we were going to treat it.”

Finding the right doctor who understands advancements in treating the disease

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, a leading advocacy group for patients with this disease, suggests patients find a cancer center that specializes specifically in multiple myeloma following a diagnosis.4

Up until a decade ago, chemotherapy was the main treatment option for multiple myeloma patients. However, several effective therapies have become available that work in different ways for many patients.2

After speaking with his doctor, Lasco was prescribed a combination of medications for relapsed multiple myeloma including KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib) in conjunction with dexamethasone and lenalidomide. KYPROLIS is a prescription medication from Amgen, Inc. used to treat patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received one to three previous treatments.5

KYPROLIS may not be appropriate for everyone. Please see accompanying Important Safety Information for additional information.

After starting treatment, Robert’s monoclonal protein levels began to decrease, signifying he may be heading back towards remission.1

“Everybody’s journey is different. Everybody’s treatment is different. The combination works for me,” said the upbeat Lasco.

Getting Support

While stressful, Lasco said the experience has strengthened his bond with his wife and family who share his passion for building awareness for the disease. He especially targets African-Americans who are nearly twice as likely as whites to develop myeloma, according to the LLS. Other risk factors are age, gender (more men are affected versus women), medical history, environment and obesity.1 He urges families to share medical history to be aware of other cases.

He and his wife formed the Lasco Cancer Fund, a nonprofit organization, hosting myriad events to build awareness including a comedy night where patients and caregivers attend for free. A key component is offering support -- including attention to the caregiver.

“You don’t have to walk with multiple myeloma by yourself,” Lasco said. “I didn’t see it [multiple myeloma] coming, but I said ‘you hit me with a right and I didn’t see it coming but I’m going to hit you with a left and you are going to see it coming,’” he concluded.

APPROVED USES FOR KYPROLIS® (CARFILZOMIB)

  • KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib) is a prescription medication used to treat patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received one to three previous treatments for multiple myeloma. KYPROLIS is approved for use in combination with dexamethasone or with lenalidomide plus dexamethasone, which are other medicines used to treat multiple myeloma.

  • KYPROLIS® is a prescription medication used to treat patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received one or more previous treatments for multiple myeloma. KYPROLIS is approved for use alone to treat relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib) can cause serious side effects:

  • ­Heart problems: KYPROLIS can cause heart problems or worsen pre-existing heart conditions. Death due to cardiac arrest has occurred within one day of KYPROLIS administration. Before starting KYPROLIS, you should have a full medical work-up (including blood pressure and fluid management). You should be closely monitored during treatment. ­

  • Kidney problems: There have been reports of sudden kidney failure in patients receiving KYPROLIS. Your kidney function should be closely monitored during treatment. ­

  • Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS): Cases of TLS have been reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS, including fatalities. You should be closely monitored during treatment for any signs of TLS.

  • Lung damage: Cases of lung damage have been reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS, including fatal cases. ­

  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs): There have been reports of pulmonary hypertension in patients receiving KYPROLIS.

  • Lung complications: Shortness of breath was reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS. Your lung function should be closely monitored during treatment. ­

  • High blood pressure: Cases of high blood pressure, including fatal cases, have been reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS. Your blood pressure should be closely monitored during treatment. ­

  • Blood clots: There have been reports of blood clots in patients receiving KYPROLIS. If you are at high risk for blood clots, your doctor can recommend ways to lower the risk.

  • If you are using KYPROLIS in combination with dexamethasone or with lenalidomide plus dexamethasone, your doctor should assess and may prescribe another medicine to help lower your risk for blood clots.

  • If you are using birth control pills or other medical forms of birth control associated with a risk of blood clots, talk to your doctor and consider a different method of birth control during treatment with KYPROLIS in combination with dexamethasone or with lenalidomide plus dexamethasone.    ­

  • Infusion reactions: Symptoms of infusion reactions included fever, chills, joint pain, muscle pain, facial flushing and/or swelling, vomiting, weakness, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, fainting, chest tightness, and chest pain. These symptoms can occur immediately following infusion or up to 24 hours after administration of KYPROLIS. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

  • Severe bleeding problems: Fatal or serious cases of bleeding problems have been reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS. Your doctor should monitor your signs and symptoms of blood loss.

  • Very low platelet count: Low platelet levels can cause unusual bruising and bleeding. You should have regular blood tests to check your platelet count during treatment. ­

  • Liver problems: Cases of liver failure, including fatal cases, have been reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS. Your liver function should be closely monitored during treatment. ­

  • Blood problems: Cases of a blood disease called thrombotic microangiopathy, including thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome (TTP/HUS), including fatal cases, have been reported in patients who received KYPROLIS. Your doctor should monitor your signs and symptoms. ­

  • Brain problems: A nerve disease called Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES), formerly called Reversible Posterior Leukoencephalopathy Syndrome (RPLS), has been reported in patients receiving KYPROLIS. It can cause seizure, headache, lack of energy, confusion, blindness, altered consciousness, and other visual and nerve disturbances, along with high blood pressure. Your doctor should monitor your signs and symptoms. ­

  • Possible fetal harm: KYPROLIS can cause harm to a fetus (unborn baby) when given to a pregnant woman. Women should avoid becoming pregnant during treatment with KYPROLIS. Men should avoid fathering a child during treatment with KYPROLIS. KYPROLIS can cause harm to a fetus if used during pregnancy or if you or your partner become pregnant during treatment with KYPROLIS.

You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: ­

  • Shortness of breath ­

  • Prolonged, unusual or excessive bleeding

  • Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes (jaundice)

  • Headaches, confusion, seizures, or loss of sight

  • Pregnancy (women should not receive KYPROLIS if they are pregnant or breastfeeding) ­

  • Any other side effect that bothers you or does not go away

What are the possible side effects of KYPROLIS?

  • The most common side effects occurring in at least 20% of patients receiving KYPROLIS in the combination therapy trials are: low red blood cell count, low white blood cell count, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tiredness (fatigue), low platelets, fever, sleeplessness (insomnia), muscle spasm, cough, upper airway (respiratory tract) infection, and decreased potassium levels.

  • The most common side effects occurring in at least 20% of patients receiving KYPROLIS when used alone (monotherapy) in trials are: low red blood cell count, tiredness (fatigue), low platelets, nausea, fever, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, headache, cough, swelling of the lower legs or hands.

These are not all the possible side effects of KYPROLIS. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see accompanying Full Product Information.

References

  1. American Cancer Society. Multiple Myeloma. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003121-pdf.pdf. Accessed on: August 25, 2016.

  2. Jakubowiak A. Management strategies for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma: current clinical perspectives. Seminars in Hematology. 2012, 49 (Suppl 1): S16-S32.

  3. Durie BGM. Multiple Myeloma Concise Review of the Disease and Treatment Options. IMF 2016. www.myeloma.org. Accessed 11/17/2016.

  4. The MMRF. Finding a Multiple Myeloma Cancer Center. Available at: https://www.themmrf.org/living-with-multiple-myeloma/find-a-treatment-center/. Accessed on: August 25, 2016.

  5. KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib) prescribing information, Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Amgen Inc. subsidiary.

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