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Treatments and drugs

posted Jan 11, 2011, 10:37 PM by David W.   [ updated Jan 19, 2011, 10:05 PM ]
Standard treatments for myeloma
Though there's no cure for multiple myeloma, with good treatment results you can usually return to near-normal activity. You may wish to consider approved clinical trials as an option.

Standard treatment options include:
  • Bortezomib (Velcade). Bortezomib was the first approved drug in a new class of medications called proteasome inhibitors. It is administered intravenously. It causes cancer cells to die by blocking the action of proteasomes. It is approved for people with newly diagnosed and previously treated myeloma.
  • Thalidomide (Thalomid). Thalidomide, a drug originally used as a sedative and to treat morning sickness in the 1950s, was removed from the market after it was found to cause severe birth defects. However, the drug received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) again in 1998, first as a treatment for skin lesions caused by leprosy. Today thalidomide is FDA approved for the treatment of newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. This drug is given orally.
  • Lenalidomide (Revlimid). Lenalidomide is chemically similar to thalidomide, but because it appears to be more potent and cause fewer side effects, it is currently used more often than thalidomide. Lenalidomide is given orally. It is approved for people with previously treated myeloma, but is also often used in people with newly diagnosed disease.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves using medicines — taken orally as a pill or given through an intravenous (IV) injection — to kill myeloma cells. Chemotherapy is often given in cycles over a period of months, followed by a rest period. Often chemotherapy is discontinued during what is called a plateau phase or remission, during which your M protein level remains stable. You may need chemotherapy again if your M protein level begins to rise. Common chemotherapy drugs used to treat myeloma are melphalan (Alkeran), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), vincristine (Oncovin), doxorubicin (Adriamycin) [9/7/10] and liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil).
  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids such as prednisone and dexamethasone (Decadron) have been used for decades to treat multiple myeloma. They are typically given as pills.
  • Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy penetrating waves to damage myeloma cells and stop their growth. Radiation therapy may be used to target myeloma cells in a specific area — for instance, to more quickly shrink a tumor that's causing pain or destroying a bone.

David W.,
Jan 13, 2011, 10:27 PM