Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) recently hosted its first LinkedIn Live event, which addressed the important topic of health disparities that may impact African Americans living with multiple myeloma, the most common form of blood cancer among this population.¹ Participants, including BMS leaders and blood cancer specialists, gathered for the virtual panel to discuss why health disparities persist for African American multiple myeloma patients and what the healthcare industry can do to increase the reach of and access to medical innovation among diverse and heavily burdened patient populations.
In case you missed it, watch a replay of the event here and read below for five takeaways from the discussion.
Key Takeaway #1: Multiple myeloma is considered a rare cancer, yet African Americans are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with it than white Americans.²
The reason for this is not completely understood. African Americans currently represent about 20% of multiple myeloma cases2, despite African Americans comprising just 13.4% of the U.S. population.³
The good news is that some studies suggest that the type of multiple myeloma that affects African Americans tends to be less aggressive, potentially leading to a better prognosis.1 This means that with appropriate care, they may potentially live longer than white Americans with the disease. However, African Americans with multiple myeloma are less likely to have access to the same care.⁴
Key Takeaway #2: Ongoing discussions between patients and physicians about treatment options and clinical trials are critical in helping to push science forward and improve access to care.
Dr. Shebli Atrash, Hematologist and Oncologist at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, believes that multiple myeloma is a disease of facts. The more access a patient has to novel treatments and clinical trials, the better the outcomes can be.⁵ This is why ongoing discussions are so important.
“With every clinic visit, there must be a discussion about what treatment options and clinical trials are available and what involvement in clinical trials means,” said Dr. Atrash.
The only way to push science forward is by partaking in clinical trials, Dr. Atrash mentioned. Clinical trials are now requiring more and more African American patients to participate to help push multiple myeloma care forward, which speaks to the importance of reaching out to the community to get more involved and improve care.
Key Takeaway #3: Patient advocacy groups, like the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), are working to empower African American patients to seek the information they need.
“So much of this problem is unfortunately built on a history of mistrust, and we need to rebuild that trust, bring accurate information that is appropriate and culturally competent so that we can help overcome this huge gap that exists,” said Dr. Joseph Mikhael, Chief Medical Officer at the IMF. M-Power, an IMF initiative, is one such program that is empowering communities to help change the course of multiple myeloma by removing barriers to care and helping improve outcomes in the disease.
The first step is creating awareness and bringing accurate information to both the public and healthcare providers to diagnose multiple myeloma earlier and enable better access to treatments, Dr. Mikhael explained. By creating a continuous spotlight on these issues, stakeholders can work together to help bring better health equity across the country.
Key Takeaway #4: Clinical nurse practitioners play an important role in empowering patients and their support team to use their voices throughout the treatment journey.
Gina Kramer, executive clinical nurse consultant at BMS, encourages nurse practitioners to not only educate on the characteristics of multiple myeloma, but also help patients communicate with their healthcare providers to enable the best support throughout their journey.
“It’s my responsibility to educate nurses to allow them to motivate and coach patients and caregivers to use their voices and ask about clinical trial options and treatment plans,” said Kramer.
It takes a community of caregivers, family and friends to provide the best support for African Americans living with multiple myeloma. Kramer urges these advocates to share credible resources with their loved ones and connect them with support groups, as there is a positive impact in speaking with those who have faced similar experiences with multiple myeloma.
Key Takeaway #5: BMS’ Standing in the Gaap
is an initiative to help put a spotlight on the need for better quality of care for African Americans living with multiple myeloma.
Standing in the Gaap was developed to raise awareness to help bridge the gaps in diagnosis, care and survival rates among African Americans with multiple myeloma.
“At Bristol Myers Squibb, we recognize that inequities in care exist, and we have the opportunity to stand in the gap and address the challenges of multiple myeloma patients. Together with our partners and stakeholders, BMS is standing in the gap, forging collaborations and investing in strategic health equity programs to ensure that every patient can achieve optimal care,” said Winselow Tucker, senior vice president, general manager of U.S. Hematology at BMS.
For over six years, the program has been working alongside healthcare providers, researchers and advocacy groups to help make a difference for the multiple myeloma community, such as producing a variety of educational materials, establishing a regular presence at medical congresses and engaging with over 61,000 followers on its Facebook page.
Programs like Standing in the Gaap provide patients with crucial information about the multiple myeloma treatment journey, nearby clinical trials and how to get the best possible care.
For more information and resources on the important issue of health disparities among African Americans living with multiple myeloma, visit BMS's website, myelomacentral.com.
- International Myeloma Foundation. What is the IMF’s African-American Initiative? Available at: https://www.myeloma.org/diversity/african-american-initiative. Accessed November 2021.
- International Myeloma Foundation. How is myeloma different in African Americans? Available at: https://www.myeloma.org/diversity/how-myeloma-different-african-americans. Accessed November 2021.
- US. Census Bureau. Quick Facts United Status Population Estimates. Available at: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219. Accessed November 2021.
- International Myeloma Foundation. What are some disparities in the treatment and care of multiple myeloma patients? Available at: https://www.myeloma.org/diversity/are-some-disparities-treatment-care-multiple-myeloma-patients. Accessed November 2021.
- Gormley, N., Fashoyin-Aje, L., et al. Recommendations on Eliminating Racial Disparities in Multiple Myeloma Therapies: A Step toward Achieving Equity in Healthcare. Available at: https://bloodcancerdiscov.aacrjournals.org/content/2/2/119. Accessed November 2021.
© 2021 Bristol Myers Squibb. 11/21. HE-US-2100857.
Source : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-five-takeaways-closing-gap-multiple-myeloma-diagnosis-1146