Heidelberg hematologist receives cancer award
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Goldschmidt has been awarded the German Cancer Award for the research and therapy optimization of multiple myeloma.
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Goldschmidt, an internationally recognized expert on the cancerous disease multiple myeloma, was awarded the German Cancer Award for "Clinical Research" on February 22 2018 at the German Cancer Congress in Berlin. Thus, the German Cancer Society and the German Cancer Foundation paid tribute to his 25-year-plus commitment to the research and therapeutic optimization of multiple myeloma. The award is one of the most prestigious distinctions for cancer researchers in Germany. Goldschmidt is a physician and researcher at Heidelberg University Hospital and the National Center for Tumor Diseases Heidelberg. Among other things, he is the recipient of the Paul Martini Prize as well as the Federal Order of Merit (Germany).
Multiple myeloma is a cancer disease of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, which are an important part of the immune system. Under Goldschmidt's direction, the German Speaking Myeloma Multicenter Group (GMMG) research group has been investigating all phases of this disease since 1996 and has developed groundbreaking new therapies. With the establishment of modern therapies and new active agents, the research results of the GMMG study group have contributed to the fact that the average life expectancy of multiple myeloma patients has doubled, from three to four years to six to eight years. With the input of the GMMG research group, Heidelberg University Hospital and the National Center for Tumor Diseases Heidelberg are among the world's leading centers for the diagnosis and therapy of this cancer.
What is multiple myeloma?
Most affected are people over the age of 60 years. Because the symptoms, for example back pain and fatigue, are non-specific, it often takes a long time to reach the correct diagnosis. The plasma cells that have degenerated into cancer cells interfere with blood formation and weaken the bone marrow; the consequences are bone pain and fractures, anemia, problems with kidney function and susceptibility to infections. Medications can reduce the symptoms. Often, however, relapse and resistance to therapy occurs after a certain time. To date, multiple myeloma is generally incurable. "Of high-risk patients, only 20 percent live for ten years," says Prof. Dr. Hartmut Goldschmidt. "It gives us great incentive to continue to develop new therapies for those affected by this disease.” Physically resilient multiple myeloma patients are generally treated with high-dose chemotherapy and subsequent return of their own blood stem cells. This therapy is combined with the administration of newer medications. Prof. Dr. Hartmut Goldschmidt was the first author of a study finding improved patient survival with the supplemental administration of an active agent, Bortezomib.