How multiple myeloma is treated
Your doctor will choose from a variety of treatment options depending on factors such as your overall health, the stage of your multiple myeloma, and how many treatments you have already received. Drugs can disrupt the growth of cancer cells, kill the cancer itself, or help your immune system attack the cancer. They may be used in combination with each other, with other drugs, or with other therapies.
Multiple myeloma treatments
- Stem cell transplants provide a new source of healthy blood cells following chemotherapy. Stem cells can come from your blood (autologous stem cell transplant) or a donor’s (allogeneic stem cell transplant)
- Immunomodulatory agents enhance or suppress your immune system. Examples: Revlimid® (lenalidomide), Pomalyst® (pomalidomide)
- Proteasome inhibitors (PIs) interfere with processes that play a role in cell function. Examples: Velcade® (bortezomib), Kyprolis® (carfilzomib), Ninlaro® (ixazomib)
- Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors work at the DNA level to slow the growth of multiple myeloma cells. Example: Farydak® (panobinostat)
- Monoclonal antibodies kill cancer cells directly and help the immune system attack them. Example: DARZALEX® (daratumumab), Empliciti™ (elotuzumab)
- Chemotherapy either kills cancer cells or stops them from dividing. Examples: melphalan, cyclophosphamide
- Corticosteroids are used in combination with other products to help decrease the nausea and vomiting. Examples: dexamethasone, prednisone
- Radiation uses high-energy particles or rays to damage cancer cells and prevent them from growing
- Bisphosphonates help strengthen and reduce the risk of fractures in bones that have been weakened by multiple myeloma
- Plasmapheresis is a transfusion technique that removes abnormal proteins from the blood
- Surgery may be used to remove individual bone tumors. Surgery may also be needed to prevent or treat fractures
Questions to ask your doctor or nurse
It is important to discuss your treatment options with your healthcare team. Here is a list of questions you may want to ask your healthcare team:
- What treatment options do we have?
- What treatment do you recommend and why?
- What is the goal of treatment?
- How quickly do we need to make a decision?
- How long will a treatment session take? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
- Should I get a port (a device placed under the skin that helps avoid the need for repeated needle sticks)?
- What side effects are there to the treatments you suggest? Are there things I can do to reduce the risk of side effects?
- How can I tell if the treatment is working?
- How will you monitor my results?
- What are the chances the cancer will recur (come back)?
- Are there transportation assistance options if I am unable to get to and from treatment?
- Are there programs that can help make my treatments more affordable?
DARZALEX® patient on multiple myeloma treatments
“When I was diagnosed eight years ago, there were very few treatments out there, and now there’s a lot available for people.”