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What is Multiple Myeloma

In episode 8 of Cure The Culture Podcast, we interview Hematologist / Oncologist Dr. Daphanie D. Taylor about Multiple Myeloma and its impact on the Black community. This cancer is diagnosed at higher rates in our community and carries twice the risk compared to white Americans. Dr. Taylor and I discuss symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, and what our community can do to improve outcomes.

This podcast offers a straightforward and honest explanation of this disease and its impact on our culture. Dr. Taylor also gives us a straight-no-chaser look into the pain and glory of becoming a physician.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

To understand the disease, you need to know how your cells are made to understand what happens when they go rogue. Multiple Myeloma is a type of cancer that develops in a special group of cells, called the plasma cell. Think of them as "Olivia Pope". These cells make antibodies and help fight infections.

How is it diagnosed?

Typically we start with a bone marrow biopsy, taking marrow from your hip bone. The best way to explain it is to think of your pelvic bone as a pack of Oreo cookies. We go through the first cookie to extract the cream. The cream is your bone marrow. And then we go further into the other cookie to get a piece of that cookie. This enables our Pathologists to look at your blood and bone marrow under a microscope. We also run a series of lab tests that look at the protein in the blood.

In the episode, Dr. Taylor goes into detail about testing to explain precisely what happens during diagnoses. For a more in-depth explanation, head over to the episode.

What are treatment options?

There is a lot of research developing around this. The treatments available during my first year of fellowship are not what we were doing by the end of my fellowship. There are a lot of clinical trials and therapies being made available. In some cases, a stem cell transplant is an option.

How is our community impacted, and what can we do to increase positive outcomes?

With equal access to care, our communities do well. Unfortunately, we can't generalize a lot of clinical trials because the patient population does not reflect the entire population- only six percent of clinical trials are African-American.

I understand the mistrust that our community has with the medical community and I've had long discussions with patients personally to help them understand their rights and how to advocate for themselves. Trust is important.

During this interview, Dr. Taylor shared so many gems about this disease and the need for more Black physicians. I encourage you to listen to the full interview. You will not be disappointed!


What is Multiple Myeloma - Additional Reading

Medical Apartheid, by Harriet Washington

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