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

There are different types of treatment for patients with plasma cell neoplasms.

Different types of treatments are available for patients with plasma cell neoplasms. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Eight types of treatment are used:


Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

See Drugs Approved for Multiple Myeloma and Other Plasma Cell Neoplasms for more information.

Other drug therapy

Corticosteroids are steroids that have antitumor effects in multiple myeloma.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Proteasome inhibitor therapy is a type of targeted therapy that blocks the action of proteasomes in cancer cells and may prevent the growth of tumors. Bortezomib and carfilzomib are proteasome inhibitors used in the treatment of multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms.

See Drugs Approved for Multiple Myeloma and Other Plasma Cell Neoplasms for more information.

High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

This treatment is a way of giving high doses of chemotherapy and replacing blood -forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient (autologous transplant) or a donor (allogeneic transplant) and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.
Stem cell transplant. (Step 1): Blood is taken from a vein in the arm of the donor. The patient or another person may be the donor. The blood flows through a machine that removes the stem cells. Then the blood is returned to the donor through a vein in the other arm. (Step 2): The patient receives chemotherapy to kill blood-forming cells. The patient may receive radiation therapy (not shown). (Step 3): The patient receives stem cells through a catheter placed into a blood vessel in the chest.

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