Local doctors explain multiple myeloma; Tom Brokaw diagnosed
POSTED: Monday, February 17, 2014 - 11:47pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 17, 2014 - 11:49pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — If you've watched NBC33 within the past 25 years, you might remember the familiar face of the man in the photo above.
And although he hasn't anchored NBC Nightly News since 2004, he recently shared a big announcement. Back in August he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer. In a statement released to NBC News, he said, “With the exceptional support of my family, medical team and friends, I am very optimistic about the future and look forward to continuing my life, my work and adventures still to come.”
“I remain the luckiest guy I know.”
And with an outpouring of love and support on social media, fans here at home are taking notice too. "It's sad when anybody gets cancer. With the advancement in modern medicine, there is hope for those people," said Brokaw fan, Jeremy Myers. Hope that comes from people like Dr. Vince Cataldo who specializes in treating cancers just like Brokaw's at Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake's Oncology and Hematology Center. "Everyday we're seeing new medications," said Cataldo.
"Multiple Myeloma is a cancer of the white blood cells called plasma cells, which are responsible for making antibodies in our body. This is an overgrowth of what would normally be a normal cell."
People living with this may find it hard to clot after bleeding, anemia, infections, and since multiple myeloma destroys the bone, they may even experience fractures. "There'll be over 20,000 cases of multiple myeloma in the United States this year. There'll be around 10,000 deaths from the disease this year though."
The following groups are at risk: people over the age of 50 or 60 and African Americans.
Doctors say there's no cure, although it is highly treatable and they aren't quite sure what causes this.
"With chemotherapy, we saw very poor survival with this disease, somewhere in the range of three to four years on average," said Cataldo. "It's a reality we have to face these days," Myers added. "It's pretty prevalent in our society. His family has to be hurting right now."
But with newer medications and continuing research, patients and their doctors are making progress. "Now, we're actually seeing up to a doubling of the average life expectancy. We have several patients of mine that greater than ten years out from their original diagnosis," said Cataldo. "So seeing someone be able to enjoy the benefits of well-tolerated medications is extraordinarily beneficial."
Click www.marybird.org/olol for more information and support.