New Treatment Gives Hope to Bone Marrow Cancer Patients


Sarah Williamson had been suffering from back and shoulder pain for almost a year but believed it was just a running injury caused by her active lifestyle. Without realizing, her condition had deteriorated so badly, that a simple hug resulted in a fractured a rib. It took several scans and tests to reveal her problem.

It was devastating to be diagnosed with myeloma. I had a young child, my health was in a bad way and I couldn’t imagine feeling well again”, notes Sarah looking back.

Myeloma is a form of cancer affecting plasma cells and generally spreads to other areas of the body, such as the spine, skull, pelvis, and ribs. Standard treatment involves chemotherapy followed by a stem-cell transplant.

Under the care of Professor Graham Jackson at the Freeman Hospital, Sarah had the opportunity to join the Myeloma XI study, a seven-year running program designed to investigate and treat myeloma patients. As part of the trials, participants were administered Lenalidomide (Revlimid).

The drug displayed some remarkable results, managing to prolong the average remission time by more than 24 months in younger patients and by well over a year in older, less fit patients. Furthermore, it was able to reduce the risk of progression or death by more than 50% in both groups. The study involved more than 4,000 patients in 110 hospitals in the UK.

Mrs. Williamson now has no sign of the bone marrow cancer in her body. The pain is gone and treatment came with hardly any side effects. She goes to regular check-ups and her condition is closely monitored.

When I meet people who have the condition and are not on the trial I feel a sense of injustice on their behalf as taking this drug has helped me get my life back and I am enjoying it to the full.”