Multiple Myeloma Chemotherapy
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Chemotherapy for Multiple Myeloma
Chemotherapy is a common treatment for multiple myeloma patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to destroy myeloma cells in the body by impeding their growth and reproduction.
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). To minimize the discomfort of multiple needle pricks, our doctors can place a port (central venous access catheter) to deliver chemotherapy. A port can also be used to deliver intravenous fluids and obtain blood samples.
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®)).
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 can 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.
Your CTCA care team includes experts from many disciplines who work together to prevent or manage chemotherapy-related side effects so your treatment is not interrupted or delayed. The following are examples of how we 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 naturopath may recommend natural therapies to ease nausea.
- Constipation: Your naturopath may recommend diet and lifestyle interventions, fiber supplements, stool softeners or other remedies to ease constipation.
- Taste Changes: Your dietitian will work with the hospital’s culinary team to find foods that appeal to you and that your body can tolerate.
- Cardiotoxicity: Your naturopath can recommend certain antioxidants, herbal medicines, or amino acids to help support the heart muscle.
- Fatigue: Your rehabilitation therapist can recommend light exercises and energy-saving techniques to help you build strength and endurance.
- Neuropathy: Your pain management practitioner can provide various methods to help control bone and/or neuropathic pain and promote nerve regeneration.
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