Treatment of Multiple Myeloma
Different types of treatments are available for patients with multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. Ten types of standard treatment are used:
- Other drug therapy
- Targeted therapy
- High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
- Biologic therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Watchful waiting
- Supportive care
ChemotherapyChemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Other Drug Therapy
- Corticosteroid therapy
- Corticosteroids are steroids that have antitumor effects in lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias.
- Thalidomide and lenalidomide
- Thalidomide and lenalidomide are drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors that prevent the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor.
Targeted TherapyTargeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Proteasome inhibitor therapy and monoclonal antibody therapy are two types of targeted therapy used in the treatment of multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms.
- Bortezomib is a proteasome inhibitor, which blocks the action of proteasomes in cancer cells and may prevent the growth of tumors.
- Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibody therapy uses antibodies made in the laboratory, from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify substances on cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.