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

The major challenge in treating plasma cell neoplasms is to separate the stable, asymptomatic group of patients who do not require immediate treatment from patients with progressive, symptomatic myeloma who should be treated immediately.[1,2] Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or smoldering myeloma must be distinguished from progressive myeloma.

Asymptomatic Plasma Cell Neoplasms

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Refractory Multiple Myeloma

There are two main types of refractory myeloma patients: Primary refractory patients who never achieve a response and progress while still on induction chemotherapy. Secondary refractory patients who do respond to induction chemotherapy but do not respond to treatment after relapse. A subgroup of patients who do not achieve a response to induction chemotherapy have stable disease and enjoy a survival prognosis that is as good as that for responding patients.[1,2] When the stable nature...

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Asymptomatic patients with multiple myeloma who have no lytic bone lesions and normal renal function may be initially observed safely outside the context of a clinical trial.[1,3,4] Increasing anemia is the most reliable indicator of progression.[4]

Symptomatic Plasma Cell Neoplasms

Treatment should be given to patients with symptomatic advanced disease.

Treatment should be directed at reducing the tumor cell burden and reversing any complications of disease, such as renal failure, infection, hyperviscosity, or hypercalcemia, with appropriate medical management. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Hypercalcemia for more information.)

Response criteria have been developed for patients on clinical trials.[5]

Current therapy for patients with symptomatic myeloma can be divided into the following categories:

  • Induction therapies.
  • Consolidation therapies, which are less applicable for the very elderly.
  • Maintenance therapies.
  • Supportive care, such as bisphosphonates. (Refer to the Adjuvant drugs section in the Pharmacologic Management section of the PDQ summary on Pain for more information.)


  1. He Y, Wheatley K, Clark O, et al.: Early versus deferred treatment for early stage multiple myeloma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD004023, 2003.
  2. Kyle RA, Remstein ED, Therneau TM, et al.: Clinical course and prognosis of smoldering (asymptomatic) multiple myeloma. N Engl J Med 356 (25): 2582-90, 2007.
  3. Riccardi A, Mora O, Tinelli C, et al.: Long-term survival of stage I multiple myeloma given chemotherapy just after diagnosis or at progression of the disease: a multicentre randomized study. Cooperative Group of Study and Treatment of Multiple Myeloma. Br J Cancer 82 (7): 1254-60, 2000.
  4. Bladé J, Dimopoulos M, Rosiñol L, et al.: Smoldering (asymptomatic) multiple myeloma: current diagnostic criteria, new predictors of outcome, and follow-up recommendations. J Clin Oncol 28 (4): 690-7, 2010.
  5. Durie BG, Harousseau JL, Miguel JS, et al.: International uniform response criteria for multiple myeloma. Leukemia 20 (9): 1467-73, 2006.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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