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Your care team will determine your specific treatment for myeloma bone disease based on:
Your age, overall health and medical history
Extent of the disease
Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disease
Your opinion or preference
Multiple Myeloma Treatment Options
Each type of treatment for multiple myeloma has a different goal. These are the main treatment options and their goals. You may have more than one of these treatments.
We may use treatment with bisphosphonates to strengthen your bones and make it harder for the myeloma cells to grow.
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to shrink or kill cancerous cells and reduce cancer spreading to other parts of the body.
Goal: To control the cancer for as long as possible. Learn more about chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill or shrink cancer cells, tumors and non-cancerous diseases.
Goal: To ease symptoms and help with bone pain. Radiation can also prevent or treat a fracture in the area of the bone weakened by the cancer. We can also use it to cure a single collection of myeloma cells, called plasmacytoma. Learn more about radiation therapy.
Stem Cell Transplant for Cancers
A stem cell transplant is a method of replacing the blood-forming cells that were destroyed by cancer treatment. Prior to your transplant, we will use high doses of chemotherapy and radiation to kill as many of the cancer cells as possible. These kill almost all your bone marrow and the cancerous cells in it. Then you receive healthy, new stem cells, which allow healthy blood cells to grow.
This may be called a bone marrow transplant or a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, depending where we take the stem cells from. Stem cells can also be taken from:
Your own bone marrow before transplant (autologous)
Among specialized surgical options for multiple myeloma are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.
Vertebroplasty: We inject a special medical-grade cement mixture into a fractured vertebra. The cement mixture injection stabilizes the vertebra and allows you to return to normal activity after a recovery period.
Kyphoplasty: We first inflate a balloon-like device in the bone to make space. Then we fill the space with cement.
Watchful Waiting: Smoldering Myeloma
Watchful waiting is when we closely monitor your condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change.
Goal: To monitor or check cancer that is growing very slowly and that is unlikely do any harm. This kind of myeloma is called smoldering myeloma. Sometimes, the treatments for multiple myeloma can cause more harm than living with it. Your doctor may recommend watchful waiting if you don't have damage to your kidneys or bones and you have little or no anemia.
You'll likely see your doctor about every three months for checkups. At that time, you'll have blood and urine tests and perhaps X-rays. These tests check to make sure the cancer is not starting to actively attack your body. If it is, you'll start active treatment.
Specialized Treatments for Multiple Myeloma
Among the specialized treatments for multiple myeloma are:
High dose chemotherapy followed by bone marrow transplantation or autologous peripheral blood progenitor transplant
Chemotherapy and Radiation
Combination chemotherapy that targets the myeloma cells is the primary treatment for multiple myeloma. You can receive chemotherapy treatments at the infusion center at the Stanford Cancer Center. Patients with multiple myeloma may also receive radiation therapy designed to help control the growth of tumors in the bones and relieve pain caused by these tumors. Learn more about our Infusion Center.
Clinical Trials and Research
Hematology Program doctors actively study new investigational therapies for patients with multiple myeloma. For example, Stanford doctors participated in clinical trials for a new drug called Velcade (bortezomib). Our patients had early access to this new treatment approach that is now FDA-approved for multiple myeloma treatment.
Hematology Program doctors often make new therapies available to their patients. See clinical trials and research for more information.
Multiple Myeloma Support Group
Stanford's Cancer Supportive Care Program sponsors the Bay Area Multiple Myeloma Support Group for anybody who has a relationship with multiple myeloma (either as a patient, caregiver, family member or loved one). Learn more about Bay Area Multiple Myeloma Support Group.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.