Multiple Myeloma Claims Roy Scheider's Life
Roy Richard Scheider, best known for his role as police chief Martin Brody in the 1975 blockbuster Jaws, died yesterday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital while receiving treatment for Multiple Myeloma, a form of cancer that affects blood cells. He died of complications from the disease, said Leslie Taylor, a university spokeswoman.
Roy Scheider was an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated American actor. He had a long and outstanding resume of films.
In 1993, Scheider signed on to be the lead star in the Steven Spielberg-produced television series SeaQuest DSV. During the second season, Scheider voiced disdain for the direction in which the series was heading. His comments were highly publicized and the media criticized him for panning his own show. NBC made additional casting and writing changes in the third season, and Scheider decided to exit the show. His contract however, required that he make several guest appearances that season. He has also repeatedly guest starred on the NBC television series Third Watch.
Roy Scheider hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in the tenth (1984-1985) season (musical guest: Billy Ocean) and appeared on the Family Guy episode Bill and Peter's Bogus Journey, voicing himself as the host of a toilet-training video. In 2007, Scheider received one of two annually-presented Lifetime Achievement Awards at the SunDeis Film Festival in Waltham, Massachusetts. (Academy Award winner Patricia Neal was the recipient of the other.) Scheider guest-starred in an episode Law & Order: Criminal Intent as a death row inmate on May 14, 2007.
Scheider's first marriage was to Cynthia Bebout on November 8, 1962. The couple had one daughter, Maximillia, before divorcing in 1989. On February 11, 1989, he married actress Brenda Siemer Scheider, with whom he had a son, Christian, and a daughter, Molly. They remained married until his death.
In 2004, Roy Scheider was diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. In June 2005, he underwent a bone marrow transplant to successfully treat the cancer which was classified as being in partial remission. Scheider died on February 10, 2008, in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital. Though a cause of death was not immediately released, Scheider's wife attributed her husband's death to a staph infection.
Treatment for multiple myeloma is focused on disease containment and suppression. If the disease is completely asymptomatic (i.e. there is a paraprotein and an abnormal bone marrow population but no end-organ damage), treatment may be deferred.
In addition to direct treatment of the plasma cell proliferation, bisphosphonates (e.g. pamidronate or zoledronic acid) are routinely administered to prevent fractures and erythropoietin to treat anemia.
Initial treatment of multiple myeloma is aimed at treating symptoms and reducing disease burden. Commonly used induction regimens include dexamethasone with or without thalidomide and cyclophosphamide, and VAD (vincristine, adriamycin, and dexamethasone). Low-dose therapy with melphalan combined with prednisone can be used to palliate symptoms in patients who cannot tolerate aggressive therapy. Plasmapheresis can be used to treat symptomatic protein proliferation (hyperviscosity syndrome).
In younger patients, therapy may include high-dose chemotherapy, melphalan, and autologous stem cell transplantation. This can be given in tandem fashion, i.e. an autologous transplant followed by a second transplant. Nonmyeloablative (or "mini") allogeneic stem cell transplantation is being investigated as an alternative to autologous stem cell transplant, or as part of a tandem transplant following an autologous transplant (also known as an "auto-mini" tandem transplant).
Allogeneic stem cell transplant offers the possibility of a cure, but is not performed commonly. It is considered investigational given the high treatment-related mortality of 5-10% associated with the procedure.
A 2007 trial indicated that the addition of thalidomide to reduced-intensity chemotherapy (melphalan and prednisone, MP) in patients between 65-75 led to a marked prolongation (median 51 versus 33 months) in survival. Reduced intensity melphalan followed by a stem cell transplant was inferior to the MP-thalidomide regimen (median survival 38 months).
The natural history of myeloma is of relapse following treatment. Depending on the patient's condition, the prior treatment modalities used and the duration of remission, options for relapsed disease include re-treatment with the original agent, use of other agents (such as melphalan, cyclophosphamide, thalidomide or dexamethasone, alone or in combination), and a second autologous stem cell transplant.
Later in the course of the disease, "treatment resistance" occurs. This may be a reversible effect, and some new treatment modalities may re-sensitize the tumor to standard therapy. For patients with relapsed disease, bortezomib (or Velcade