More must be done to help patients with incurable bone cancer, health officials have said.
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has set out new guidance to improve care for adults in England living with myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells found in the body’s bone marrow.
The health body said that there is variation across the country in the way care is provided for patients with the disease.
The condition affects around 4,800 people a year across the UK. There is no cure but treatments can improve the quality and length of life for patients.
The new guidance set out key recommendations including better psychological support for patients, offering full body scans to people who are suspected to have the condition and using the same bone marrow sample for all all diagnostic and prognostic tests so that patients only have to undergo one bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy.
The new guidance has been created to cover aspects of care where there is “uncertainty or variation in practice”.
Professor Mark Baker, clinical practice director at Nice, said: “Although there is no cure for myeloma, several novel drug treatments have been licensed in the past 10 years that have led to substantial improvements in the quality and length of time it is possible to live with the disease.
“However, there is still variation across the country in terms of providing a coherent and consistent approach to the management of myeloma.
“Our guideline sets out best practice care to ensure people live as normal a life as possible for as long as possible.”
Alan Chant, patient and carer member of committee which created the guideline, added: “This guideline represents an important step forward for myeloma patients. It should ensure that diagnosis and treatment are standardised throughout the country.
“It sets out best practice for clinicians for diagnosing and treating myeloma, and provides knowledge to myeloma patients and carers to understand their condition and treatment, ask relevant questions and become better engaged with their care team during the course of their treatment.”
Eric Low, chief executive of charity Myeloma UK, added: “Guidelines have historically played an important role in informing clinical practice and to, as far as is possible, ensure equity in treatment and care. Myeloma UK is driven by the need of patients and we will do all we can to ensure these guidelines are used in the best way possible to benefit patients.”