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Treatments for Multiple Myeloma
by Debra Wood, RN
At present, there is no cure for multiple myeloma. Overall, treatment is focused on destroying cancer cells, slowing disease progression, and easing symptoms caused by the disease. Treatment plans often include a combination of treatments. The exact plan will depend on the type of myeloma, how aggressive the the disease is, symptoms, age, and overall health.
Smoldering multiple myeloma may be found early before it is causing symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a period of watchful waiting. This means you and your doctor will carefully monitor your condition for any changes or signs of disease progression. Treatment will begin once symptoms are causing problems.
Symptomatic multiple myeloma requires treatment. Chemotherapy is the main treatment option, but radiation therapy may be beneficial in managing certain symptoms. Supportive care for other problems like osteoporosis, recurrent infections, or anemia are also part of the treatment plan. A stem cell transplant may be done for some people to increase survival time, but it does not lead to a cure and may not work for everyone.
The healthcare team will be made up of a variety of health professionals including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and pharmacists. It is important to maintain contact with your medical team, adhere to recommended treatment, and go to any recommended appointments for best outcomes possible.
Multiple myeloma treatment may include:
Research studies help to determine whether or not new treatments are both safe and effective. If current treatment is not effective for your type of cancer you may wish to ask your doctor if you should consider participating in a clinical trial. You can find out about clinical trials at the http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ website.
Treating multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/treating.html. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma. Updated November 21, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated September 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Treatment. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at:
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Accessed March 16, 2017.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq#section/_46. Updated August 5, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/12/2016
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