Chemotherapy for multiple myeloma
Chemotherapy for multiple myeloma may consist of a single agent or a combination of drugs. Because each medication destroys tumor cells in different ways, giving several drugs together may make the cells more vulnerable to treatment. For patients with multiple myeloma, chemotherapy is typically given orally (by mouth, in pill form) or intravenously (injection into the vein).
A typical treatment regimen for multiple myeloma
Many multiple myeloma patients receive chemotherapy in combination with other drugs/treatments to fight the disease and prevent recurrence. A typical multiple myeloma treatment plan may include:
- Induction chemotherapy (a combination of drugs used to destroy as many myeloma cells as possible).
- Consolidation chemotherapy (high doses of chemotherapy to destroy any remaining myeloma cells) followed by a single or tandem stem cell transplant.
- Maintenance therapy (a less intensive course of chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence).
Some examples of drugs we may use to treat multiple myeloma include: melphalan, bortezomib (e.g., Velcade®), thalidomide (e.g., Thalomid®), lenalidomide (e.g., Revlimid® ) and corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone, dexamethasone (Decadron®)).
Throughout your treatment, we will conduct routine blood tests and other diagnostic tests to check for myeloma cells and make modifications to your treatment plan as needed.
Managing the side effects of chemotherapy
While chemotherapy destroys rapidly-dividing cancer cells, it can affect normal fast-growing cells, such as those in the hair, mouth, GI tract and bone marrow. Chemotherapy for multiple myeloma may also temporarily interfere with the ability of the bone marrow to produce adequate numbers of blood cells, lowering blood cell counts and increasing the risk of infection.
The following are examples of how we may help you manage side effects during your multiple myeloma chemotherapy treatment:
- Low blood cell counts: Your oncologist may use certain drugs to stimulate blood cell production or give you a transfusion to restore your counts to a normal level.
- Nausea: Your oncologist may prescribe medications, and your naturopathic clinician may suggest natural therapies to ease nausea.
- Constipation: Your naturopath may suggest diet and lifestyle interventions, fiber supplements, stool softeners or other remedies to ease constipation
- Taste changes: Your dietitian may recommend working with the hospital’s culinary team to find foods that appeal to you and that your body can tolerate.