How is multiple myeloma treated?
There is currently no cure for multiple myeloma. Treatment includes medicine to relieve pain, and chemotherapy to destroy abnormal cells and to slow the development of the disease. You will also need treatment if you have broken bones, a low blood count, infection or kidney damage. Even with treatment, sometimes your symptoms will be better and sometimes they'll be worse. The 2 medicines most often used together to treat multiple myeloma are melphalan (a chemotherapy drug) and prednisone (a steroid medicine).
If you have multiple myeloma, you should try to stay active. Staying active helps keep the calcium in your bones instead of in your blood, which helps keep your bones strong. You should also eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids.
Are there side effects of medicines used to treat multiple myeloma?
Yes, like most cancer medicines, these medicines have side effects. Your doctor will probably give you blood tests once a month. When melphalan kills the cancer cells, it also kills some of your body's "good" cells. You may lose some of your hair, but it will grow back after you stop chemotherapy. However, if you have a fever, bleeding (such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums or severe bruising), a skin rash or a cough that doesn't go away, call your doctor right away. These are some of the more serious side effects of melphalan. While you're taking melphalan, you must not get pregnant because melphalan might be harmful for the baby.
If the cancer doesn't respond to a combination of melphalan and prednisone, your doctor may talk with you about other treatments. These may include other medicines, radiation treatments or a bone marrow transplant.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff