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Cancer Health Center

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


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 high-dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant using the patient's own stem cells.
  • Biologic therapy: Biologic therapy with thalidomide, lenalidomide, or pomalidomide is given to treat amyloidosis.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy with proteasome inhibitors is given to treat amyloidosis.
  • 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:
    • Pain
    • Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation

Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

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