The PROMISE Study’s impact on early detection of multiple myeloma

The PROMISE study, a study designed to detect early signs of multiple myeloma in high-risk adults, is one of the many ways Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is helping to advance the prevention and early detection of cancer. Becky Nutley, a multiple myeloma patient at Dana-Farber, has seen the study’s “promise” firsthand.

In December 2014, after routine blood work for psoriatic arthritis, Becky was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “I was in complete shock. I was only 39 years old and had two young boys. But over time, I became more optimistic and positive,” Becky says. “I started living and enjoying every day and tried not to think about the future so much.”

Becky’s initial diagnosis was of smoldering myeloma, a precursor condition to the full-blown disease. After her early diagnosis, her oncologist, Irene Ghobrial, MD, Lavine Family Chair for Preventative Cancer Therapies at Dana-Farber, asked Becky to be a patient advocate for the PROMISE study, to raise awareness of these precursor conditions.

In addition to smoldering multiple myeloma, precursor conditions include MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia. African Americans and people with a parent, sibling, or child with multiple myeloma or a precursor condition are at a higher risk of developing the disease and may be eligible for the PROMISE study.

“It’s very important that those who are more at-risk be screened,” Becky says. “It’s important to raise awareness, too, because if caught early, this cancer can be treated as a chronic disease. There are so many readily available treatments that help, and I am encouraged by the growing research and awareness.” 

Becky’s treatment plan began with a two-year clinical trial for smoldering myeloma. She was the first patient to enroll in PROMISE under Dr. Ghobrial’s care, and since then, her treatment plan has included a stem cell transplant and maintenance therapy. Recently, Becky enrolled in another clinical trial. 

 “I’m a working mom and want to make my boys’ life as normal as possible so I try to keep things routine,” Becky explains. “I am tired and have bad days, but I try to enjoy each day and not take anything for granted. I try to appreciate it all.” For more information to see if you or a loved one would be a good candidate for the PROMISE study, visit the PROMISE study website today.