Treatment Option Overview
Surgery to remove the tumor may be done and is usually followed by radiation therapy. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.
Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient's condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
New combinations of therapies
Clinical trials are studying different combinations of biologic therapy, chemotherapy, steroid therapy, and drugs. New treatment regimens using thalidomide or lenalidomide are also being studied.
Supportive care is given to lessen the problems caused by the disease or its treatment.
This therapy controls problems or side effects caused by the disease or its treatment, and improves quality of life. Supportive care is given to treat problems caused by multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms.
Supportive care may include the following:
- Plasmapheresis: If the blood becomes thick with extra antibody proteins and interferes with circulation, plasmapheresis is done to remove extra plasma and antibody proteins from the blood. In this procedure blood is removed from the patient and sent through a machine that separates the plasma (the liquid part of the blood) from the blood cells. The patient's plasma contains the unneeded antibodies and is not returned to the patient. The normal blood cells are returned to the bloodstream along with donated plasma or a plasma replacement. Plasmapheresis does not keep new antibodies from forming.
- High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant: If amyloidosis occurs, treatment may include a clinical trial of high-dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant using the patient's own stem cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is given for bone lesions of the spine.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is given to reduce back pain from osteoporosis or compression fractures of the spine.
- Bisphosphonate therapy: Bisphosphonate therapy is given to slow bone loss and reduce bone pain. See the following PDQ summaries for more information on bisphosphonates and problems related to their use:
- Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation