Multiple myeloma treatment and recovery

Treatment

Your personalized treatment plan for multiple myeloma will be determined by our multidisciplinary team working with you to decide the best approaches. This includes both treatment to control the disease as well as supportive therapy to improve your quality of life.

A typical plan includes drug therapy, such as targeted therapy and/or chemotherapy, with or without steroids. You may also need stem cell transplantation or other types of treatments, such as radiation therapy and surgery.

Possible treatments include:

Chemotherapy. Drugs that destroy cancer cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. We often use more than one drug at a time for maximum results.

Targeted therapy or novel therapy. Drugs that target the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. In recent years, targeted therapy has proven to be increasingly successful at controlling myeloma and improving a prognosis.

Immunotherapy or biologic therapy. Uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.

Other drug therapy. We may give anti-inflammatory steroids alone or at the same time as targeted therapy or chemotherapy.

Bone modifying drugs. We treat most of our multiple myeloma patients with bone modifying drugs that help strengthen the bone and reduce bone pain and the risk of fractures. Drugs in this class include bisphosphonates.

Bone marrow transplantation or stem cell transplantation. A medical procedure in which bone marrow that contains cancer is replaced by highly specialized cells, called hematopoietic stem cells, that develop into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the bone marrow. Most stem cell transplants in multiple myeloma utilize the patient’s own (autologous) cells, rather than from a donor (allogeneic), resulting in elimination of graft vs host disease risk.

Radiation therapy. High-energy X-rays or other particles that destroy cancer cells.

Surgery. We might use surgery to treat bone disease, especially if there are fractures, and recent plasmacytomas, especially if they occur outside the bone.