The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) has begun a multiyear, multidisciplinary initiative, M-Power Charlotte, which is designed to promote the early diagnosis and treatment of myeloma in the Black community. The IMF is working with Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute’s Disparities & Outreach program in Charlotte, North Carolina, to enlist local leaders and clinicians in promoting increased knowledge about the disease.
More than 30,000 adults will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is the most common blood cancer in Black Americans and is more than twice as common in people of African descent as in White individuals.
Joseph Mikhael, MD
“The latest research data show that African American myeloma patients do just as well, or even better than, White patients when barriers to early diagnosis and treatment are eliminated,” said Joseph Mikhael, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the IMF. “These findings have been our organization’s call to action.”
Raising Myeloma Awareness
Doctors do not typically check people for myeloma during regular visits because currently there are no national screening recommendations. That is why it is important for Black Americans to learn about the early symptoms of myeloma and let their doctors know they are at higher risk for the disease.
The project launch includes the debut of a dedicated M-Power Charlotte website, which will help people to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of the disease and the latest treatments. The site offers digital, video, and print educational materials; a tip card with key information to help facilitate conversations between patients and doctors; and a directory of area support groups.
Along with educating the Charlotte area’s at-risk individuals and their health-care providers about early myeloma symptoms, the M-Power Charlotte team seeks to identify and eliminate hurdles that prevent people from receiving the appropriate diagnosis and care. “There are barriers to care that exist in many of the communities we serve, and we are determined to remove them,” said Derek Raghavan, MD, President of Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute. “By expanding awareness in the most-affected communities, we hope to see better access to care and better treatment results.”
Derek Raghavan, MD
Saad Usmani, MD
“Since the program’s inception, the Plasma Cell Disorders Division has been committed to overcoming barriers to diagnosis and care in our community,” said Saad Usmani, MD, Division Chief of Plasma Cell Disorders at Atrium Health. “This collaboration is a testament to our long-term commitment to the communities we serve.”