Duke hematologists diagnose and treat amyloidosis, a rare blood disease in which a part of the body produces abnormal proteins that interfere with normal organ function. While there is no cure for most forms of amyloidosis, we can help you manage the disease with innovative treatments that limit your body’s production of the amyloid protein.
Comprehensive care for amyloidosis
Amyloidosis is not a common disease, but it can be serious. You may be at increased risk for amyloidosis if you have multiple myeloma, lymphoma, or kidney disease and are on long-term dialysis. Amyloidosis be a form of cancer from the bone marrow, or a blood disease that starts in the liver. Other people may inherit amyloidosis from their parents. Because the function of your heart, kidney, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract can be affected, you need a team of specialists that is familiar with treating amyloidosis, as well as the complications that can occur. This will ensure you receive the best possible care.
Our specialists undergo advanced training, and have years of experience treating amyloidosis. As experts in its treatment, we use the latest advances to control your amyloidosis. We identify your risk for complications, manage your related conditions, and use the resources available to us as a major medical center to maximize your quality of life.
Choose Duke for your amyloidosis care because we offer:
- Top ranked care. We are consistently ranked among the top cancer, kidney and heart programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
- Team approach. Because amyloidosis can affect your heart, kidney, liver and other organs, you benefit from the many specialists on our amyloidosis team, which includes hematologist/oncologists, bone marrow transplant specialists, heart and liver transplant surgeons, cardiologists, kidney specialists, gastroenterologists, and neurologists, We have extensive experience treating amyloidosis and its complications. We discuss your care, collect opinions, and offer coordinated treatment recommendations and follow up.
- Access to promising new therapies. You may have access to our ongoing clinical trials in promising new, targeted therapies or other approaches that are not yet available outside of a clinical trial, and are not accessible at most other hospitals.
- Leading transplant specialists. If you need a transplant to treat your amyloidosis, our transplant specialists are among the nation’s best. Our heart, liver, stem cell (“bone marrow”) and kidney transplant programs are among the largest in the Southeast.
- Comforting environment. If you receive chemotherapy as part of your treatment, our Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where you may be able to receive your chemotherapy outdoors.
- Personalized care and support for you and your family. Our comprehensive support services are here for you throughout your treatment journey. We help minimize the side effects of treatment, and offer support to help you cope with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. You may also utilize our services focusing on nutrition, guided imagery, anxiety control, and meditation.
Kills or slows the growth of cells that produce abnormal amyloid proteins. Systemic chemotherapy is administered orally or by injection. Some forms of chemotherapy must be given in the hospital or in a clinic, and others can be given at home.
Newer drugs (also called biologic agents or novel agents), target cells that produce amyloid protein and either kill those cells, or shut down production of the amyloid protein, while sparing normal cells. Targeted therapies for cancerous forms of amyloidosis include bortezomib (Velcade), lenalidomide (Revlimid) and pomalidomide (Pomalyst). May be used in combination with steroids or chemotherapy. Additionally, other targeted therapies for the cancerous and non cancerous forms of amyloidosis are undergoing testing in clinical trials at Duke.
Performed in cancerous forms of amyloidosis to destroy the abnormal cells that produce the amyloid protein. Stem cells come from the bone marrow which is the starting point for your body’s production of blood. High-doses of chemotherapy kill amyloid-producing cells and shut down the bone marrow, Stem cells “rebuild” your bone marrow over several weeks to help your body start making blood again. Stem cell transplant can be performed in multiple ways. Your type of amyloidosis, and your condition, will determine if transplant is right for you.
May be necessary if your liver, heart or kidneys are damaged by amyloidosis.
Tailored diets are sometimes appropriate for amyloidosis. Your team would discuss that with you as part of your overall treatment plan.
Looks for the presence of amyloidosis symptoms, such as nerve damage, enlarged spleen, unexplained congestive heart failure or skin changes.
Detect proteins that could be depositing in organs, causing amyloidosis.
May be taken from bone marrow, gums, skin or rectum. May also be taken from specific organs, such as the heart or kidney, to determine if they have been affected by amyloidosis.
X-rays, MRI’s (especially of the heart), and CT scans are sometimes performed to identify complications of amyloidosis.