Multiple Myeloma Treatment Guide
The Multiple Myeloma Treatment Guide from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation provides detailed information on the different types of myeloma treatment, surgery, or therapy.
Thanks to advancements in cancer research, the number of treatment options available for multiple myeloma patints has increased greatly, significantly improving multiple myeloma life expectancy. Patients and patient families can learn everything from what bisphosphonates are to the different types of stem cell transplants. It’s important to note that the most important part of assessing your multiple myeloma treatment options is speaking to your doctor. Multiple myeloma treatment often varies by the stage of myeloma, or your prognosis. Our guidelines focus on seven areas that myeloma patients (and families) might consider when exploring different treatment options:
Bisphosphonates are a type of drug treatment that help bones remain strong, hindering the effects of multiple myeloma. 85% of multiple myeloma patients experience some form of bone problems – bisphosphonates help these patients by:
• Slowing bone deterioration
• Diminishing bone pain
• Decreasing the risk of bone fractures
All patients experiencing symptoms of multiple myeloma should receive intravenous bisphosphonate injections on a monthly basis.
Growth factors are medications that are used to stimulate the production of blood cells. There are two primary forms of growth factors:
1. Erythropoietin (EPO)
2. Colony-Stimulating Factors (CSFs)
Erythropoietin works by stimulating the production of red blood cells, while colony-stimulating factors stimulate the production of infection-fighting white blood cells.
Orthopedic Interventions Surgery
Orthopedic Intervention Surgeries help control bone pain or retain bone function or mobility for myeloma patients. Nearly 75% of multiple myeloma patients experience bone pain, making it important for patients to understand the surgical options available. 2 common orthopedic surgeries for myeloma patients include vertebroplasties or kyphoplasties. Both bone surgeries are minimally invasive procedures that offer distinct benefits for myeloma patients suffering from bone pain or bone complications.
Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy or x-ray therapy, is a treatment that uses high-energy particles (radiation) to damage myeloma cells or prevent them from growing. There are different several radiation therapies available depending on how advanced the disease is. Radiation therapies include:
• Local radiation
• High-dose radiation
• Local low-dose
• Total body irradiation
Radiation treatments produce a variety of side effects, the most common being fatigue, loss of appetite, or sensitive skin.
Stem Cell Transplants
Stem cell transplants are a multiple myeloma treatment option that patients undergo following high-dose chemotherapy. High-dose chemotherapy destroys important cells called hematopoietic stem cells, which help produce red blood cells. Stem cell transplantation helps patients restore these hematopoietic stem cells. Patients are ultimately enabled to continue producing red blood cells thanks to stem cell transplants.
Treatment Side Effects
Side effects vary significantly based on the different treatment options. For example, patients undergoing chemotherapy will typically experience hair loss, while patients going through radiation therapy will commonly experience sensitive skin.
Treatments by Symptom
There are common symptoms that most myeloma patients experience. These patients have a variety of treatment options at their disposal that can lessen the severity of these symptoms. For example, patients with anemia can take supplements high in iron, folate, or vitamin B-12. On the other hand, patients with bone problem can consider taking bisphosphonates or orthopedic surgery.
For more information on multiple myeloma treatments, consult with a physician. Myeloma patients can also learn about the various myeloma drugs or experimental multiple myeloma treatment options that are available today by visiting the other sections of our knowledge center.