Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis

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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.

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About Amyloidosis

Increased Risk
You may be at increased risk for amyloidosis if you have multiple myelomalymphoma, or kidney disease and are on long-term dialysis

A Team of Specialist May be Needed
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. 

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Chemotherapy

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; others can be given at home.

Targeted Therapies

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)
  • Pomalidomide (Pomalyst)

They may be used in combination with steroids or chemotherapy. Other targeted therapies for the cancerous and non cancerous forms of amyloidosis are undergoing testing in clinical trials at Duke.

Stem Cell Transplant

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.

Organ Transplant

An organ transplant may be necessary if your liver, heart or kidneys are damaged by amyloidosis.

Dietary Therapy

Tailored diets are sometimes appropriate for amyloidosis. Your team will discuss that with you as part of your overall treatment plan. 

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Tests

Physical Exam

Looks for symptoms, such as nerve damage, enlarged spleen, unexplained congestive heart failure or skin changes, that may signal the presence of amyloidosis.

Blood and Urine Tests

Detect proteins that could be depositing in organs, causing amyloidosis.

Biopsy

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, CT

X-rays, MRI’s (especially of the heart), and CT scans are sometimes performed to identify complications of amyloidosis.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Why Choose Duke

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 which study 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
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.