Now a new clinical trial is giving patients hope.
Lou Baxter explains in tonight's Health Report.
For Marty Melley life is best spent on the go.
Marty Melley, has myeloma, said: "I always said, if this thing ever got me, it would be while I was moving, not while I'm standing still."
This thing is multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. Once diagnosed, patients usually have three to five years. Marty found out after the birth of his first grandchild.
Marty, "I wanted to see him grow a little bit."
After a stem cell transplant, Marty went into remission, but the cancer came back. That's when he enrolled in a new clinical trial.
Aaron Rapoport, MD, University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, said: "We're actually taking the patient's own immune cells, and we're genetically modifying them."
That army of t-cells are then able to recognize and attack the cancer cells. The therapy is done together with a stem cell transplant that helps rebuild the body's blood system.
Dr. Rapoport, "Patients tolerate the infusion very well."
Initial results show that more than 80-percent of patients either went into a complete or near-complete remission or were close to it. Now 11 years after what appeared to be his death sentence, Marty has two grandsons to share his wisdom with.
Marty, "When you want to do something, don't wait until the golden years, cause sometimes your golden years, the gold is used to pay the doctor bills. Ha-ha."
I'm Lou Baxter reporting.
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