Myeloma update from ASCO: an interview with Dr. James Berenson

Oh, I just looooooove this myeloma specialist!!! 🙂 Before I get carried away, though, and forget to publish the link to the interview, here it is: Dr. Berenson makes so many good points, points that make TOTAL sense to me, that it’s a bit hard to choose only a few…

Well, I’ll give it a quick shot. I really REALLY liked what he said about about:

  1. A patient’s quality of life…e.g., the effect of treatment on mental function and functional impairment: “…Often we’re measuring response, but we’re forgetting about what it really does to the patient’s lifestyle.”
  2. When to begin treatment: “Just because you have a diagnosis doesn’t mean you need treatment,” he says. Yeah!
  3. The overtreatment of patients…the issue of transplants…

Perhaps most of all, though, I was interested in his advice for SMM folks: in order to try to prevent future bone problems, we should be taking supplemental vitamin D and calcium on a daily basis. (I would add that MGUS folks should at least have their vit D levels carefully monitored…) YES!!!

About three minutes into the interview, concerning bone issues, he says: “Let’s start just with simple things that you can do…First of all, vitamin D, calcium…We didn’t care about that 5 years ago.” But now, “We care a lot.” As I said, I LOVE THIS SPECIALIST!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

Here’s a summary (from memory and a few jotted down notes…) of what he said specifically about vitamin D and calcium. Basically, all patients, MM and SMM (and, I would add, MGUS, too) should have their vitamin D levels tested in order to have a baseline. If their vit D baseline levels are low, they should take 50000 units of vit D per week for 8 weeks, then get re-tested. If their levels have gone back up, then they are probably okay with 1000 to 2000 units per day. If, instead, their baseline vit D levels are okay, then he recommends 1200 units a day. WOW!!!!! This is excellent!!!!!

As for calcium, he recommends taking 1 gram a day of elemental calcium…that is, not calcium gluconate or carbonate. I asked him a clarifying question about that and am waiting for his answer, which I will leave here in a comment as soon as I receive it…

Anyway, I highly recommend that you all watch this amazingly compelling 13-minute interview. Thank you, Dr. Berenson! 🙂


  1. Dr Berenson’s comments about stem cell transplant are very controversial. To say only in 20 or 25 patients benefit from the procedure is at odds with other MM specialists who quote much better numbers.

    I guess it’s just another example of controversy which is inherent in all complex problems such as MM.

    However I like his remarks about not rushing into therapy unless absolutely necessary.

    Gerry G.

  2. Greetings from Finland!
    Margaret dear,
    did You ever find out what dr.Berenson ment by
    elemental calcium? In some other interview He adviced myeloma folk to get rid of artificial sweeteners,
    what do You think about stevia?
    Thank You Margaret for this blog, we need You all over the world!
    Love You,

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