It's important that your doctor is experienced in treating patients with myeloma or works in consultation with a myeloma specialist. This type of specialist is usually called a hematologist oncologist.
Types of Treatment
Your treatment will include one or more of the following therapies:
- Chemotherapy and drug therapy
- Stem cell transplantation with high-dose chemotherapy
- Radiation therapy
- Supportive care
- Your doctor may suggest that you participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials can involve therapy with new drugs and new drug combinations or new approaches to stem cell transplantation. (link to hidden page)
Finding the Best Treatment Approach
Myeloma can't be cured; therefore, the goals of myeloma treatment are to:
- Reduce symptoms
- Slow disease progression
- Provide prolonged remissions (when there are no signs of myeloma or you feel well enough to carry on your daily activities)
- Lengthen survival while preserving quality of life.
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- Extent and characteristics of your disease, such as chromosome abnormalities
- Rate of disease progression
- Presence of other conditions, such as heart or kidney disease, diabetes or neuropathy
- Age (note that the patient’s overall health is considered in determining his or her ability to tolerate intensive therapy, rather than age alone).
As you develop a treatment plan with your doctor, be sure to discuss:
- Your treatment options and the results you can expect from treatment
- The possibility of participating in a clinical trial, where you'll have access to advanced medical treatment that may be more beneficial to you than standard treatment
- Potential side effects, including long-term and late effects
Getting a Second Opinion: People diagnosed with myeloma may want to consult a myeloma specialist or a second myeloma specialist before proceeding with a prescribed treatment plan to make sure they are getting the best therapy available. Many health insurance companies will authorize a second opinion.
Click here to download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers.
Other Treatment Considerations
- If you're age 60 or older, your treatment may vary from standard approaches. For instance, your body may not be able to tolerate toxic chemotherapy drugs or you may have other ailments that are more common as we age. These factors, among others, may make choosing a treatment more complicated.
- If your cancer has returned (relapsed) or it's still present after you finish standard therapy (refractory myeloma), you may have a different treatment approach than the first time around. Read more about refractory and relapsed myeloma.