For now, there is no cure for multiple myeloma (MM). The goal is to kill cancer cells, slow the progress of the disease, and ease symptoms. The plan will depend on the type of MM and how fast it is growing. It will also depend on symptoms, age, and overall health.
Smoldering MM may be found early before it causes problems. A period of watchful waiting may be advised. This means you and your doctor will watch for changes or signs the disease is progressing. Treatment will be put off until problems appear.
Symptomatic MM needs to be treated. The main method is chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is used to help ease certain symptoms. A stem cell transplant may be done for some people to help them live longer. But, it does not lead to a cure and may not work for everyone. Other problems, such as osteoporosis, infections, or anemia, will also be treated.
Your care team is made up of many types of health professionals. This includes doctors, surgeons, nurses, and pharmacists. Keep in touch with your team and to go recommended appointments. This will help you get the most from the treatments.
MM treatment may include:
Treatments for many cancers are always changing. Some have yet to be found. As a result, clinical trials exist around the world. You may wish to ask your doctor if you should enlist in a clinical trial. You can find out about them at the US National Institutes of Health website.
Michels TC, Petersen KE. Multiple myeloma: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2017;95(6):373-383A.
Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma. Updated March 29, 2019. Accessed May 3, 2019.
Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/plasma-cell-disorders/multiple-myeloma. Updated May 2018. Accessed May 3, 2019.
Treating multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/treating/radiation.html. Accessed May 3, 2019.
Treatment. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: https://www.lls.org/disease-information/myeloma/treatment. Accessed May 3, 2019.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq#_46. Updated April 9, 2019. Accessed May 3, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/3/2019