Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma) Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment for Multiple Myeloma

Initial Evaluation

The initial approach to the patient is to evaluate the following parameters:

Recommended Related to Cancer

Adverse Effects

No serious toxicity associated with the use of coenzyme Q10 has been reported. Reviewed in [1,2,3,4]Doses of 100 mg /day or higher have caused mild insomnia in some individuals. Reviewed in [1]Liver enzyme elevation has been detected in patients taking doses of 300 mg/day for extended periods of time, but no liver toxicity has been reported. Reviewed in [1] Researchers in one cardiovascular study reported that coenzyme Q10 caused rashes, nausea, and epigastric (upper abdominal) pain that required...

Read the Adverse Effects article > >

  1. Detection of a monoclonal (or myeloma) protein (M protein) in the serum or urine.
  2. Detection of more than 10% of plasma cells on a bone marrow examination.
  3. Detection of lytic bone lesions or generalized osteoporosis in skeletal x-rays.
  4. Presence of soft tissue plasmacytomas.
  5. Serum albumin and beta-2-microglobulin levels.
  6. Detection of free kappa and lambda serum immunoglobulin light chain.[1]

Treatment selection is influenced by the age and general health of the patient, prior therapy, and the presence of complications of the disease.[2]

Induction Therapy

The choice of induction therapy is unclear at the present time; however, the current basic categories include the use of steroids, thalidomide, and lenalidomide.

Several questions are raised when therapy is being chosen for a patient with symptomatic myeloma at first presentation, including the following:

  1. Is the patient eligible for a clinical trial? The sequence and combinations of new and older therapies can only be determined by prospective clinical trials.
  2. Is autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) a possible consolidation option for this patient? If so, alkylating agents should be avoided during induction therapy to avoid compromise of stem cell collection and to lessen leukemogenic risk.
  3. Does the patient have comorbidities? Age, organ dysfunction, and risk of cardiovascular and thrombotic complications would influence the choice of induction therapies as well as the choice of whether to consider consolidation therapies.

Induction therapy agents

Multiple therapeutic agents are available for induction therapy, either alone or in combinations.[3] These include the following:

Clinical trials are needed to establish the regimens with the best efficacy and least long-term toxicity. (Refer to the Combination therapy section of this summary for a list of current clinical trials.)

Guidelines for choosing induction therapy

Until results become available, outside the context of a clinical trial, clinicians may choose induction therapy based on the following guidelines:

  1. In patients younger than 70 years, alkylators are avoided up front to avoid stem cell toxicity with subsequent risks for cytopenias, secondary malignancies, or poor stem cell harvesting if transplantation is considered for consolidation therapy.[4]
  2. Bortezomib or lenalidomide is combined with dexamethasone for at least 8 months or until best response if consolidation therapy is planned.[5,6] (Refer to the Lenalidomide and Bortezomib sections of this summary for more information.)
  3. The choice of bortezomib or lenalidomide is based on side-effect profile and route of administration.
    • Bortezomib is given in frequent intravenous doses and can cause significant neuropathic toxicities.[6,7,8] Bortezomib is preferred in the setting of renal impairment.[9]
    • Lenalidomide is given orally and can cause an increased risk for deep venous thrombosis (DVT), requiring additional prophylactic medication.[5,10]
  4. Patients with standard-risk disease, as defined in the Stage Information About Plasma Cell Neoplasms section of this summary, might receive induction therapy alone, followed by careful observation after best response.[11]
  5. Patients with high-risk disease might receive induction therapy until best response, followed by consolidation therapy with allogeneic or ASCT.[11]
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas