The additional testing revealed that Newlin had what’s called smoldering multiple myeloma. It is a precancerous or dormant form of myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
“The disease wasn’t active, but was just sitting there with all the potential ramifications of myeloma,” he relates. “The doctors told me there’s nothing for me to do right now, but they did say they were doing a study in which they give some participants the medication used for active myeloma, while others are in a control group and given no drugs, just closely monitored. I said I’d be happy to participate.”
It turns out that Newlin was randomized to the control group.
“I go in for regular evaluation that includes a blood check every month,” he says. “If my tests indicate that I need to see other specialists — such as a cardiologist, neurologist or urologist — for other health issues, they make sure it happens.
“I wouldn’t get this level of close monitoring outside of the clinical trial,” he continues. “I’m getting a lot more attention paid to my health than I would if I were simply going to my regular doctor on an annual basis.”
He also notes that, should his smoldering myeloma become the active form of the disease, he would be eligible to receive the medication that patients randomized to the other arm of the study receive.
“Because he’s being monitored so closely, we would be able to offer him treatment more expeditiously — certainly sooner than if he weren’t part of the clinical trial,” Dr. Gupta says. “And because this particular myeloma treatment we’re studying is still experimental, it’s only available through a clinical trial — which he’s already part of.”
“I’m very impressed with the amount of support I get through this trial,” Newlin adds. “Even though I’m randomized to the control group, I still get terrific benefits.”