Treatment generally depends on the stage of the disease, any previous treatments, and how well the patient has responded to previous treatment. Multiple myeloma is usually treated with chemotherapy, although radiation therapy may also be used to kill myeloma cells or to relieve pain in the spine and other areas. Some patients may require high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy followed by a stem cell transplant.
Chemotherapy destroys the myeloma cells directly. Chemotherapy may be given over a period of months. Most often chemotherapy may be received outside the hospital, but at times it may be necessary to receive it in the hospital. The drugs are given in cycles, giving the patient’s immune system and normal cells time to recover. By destroying the cancer cells, chemotherapy can also relieve many of the symptoms of the disease.
This is usually used to treat a specific area where there is bone destruction and pain. Radiation therapy can kill cancer cells more quickly than chemotherapy and has fewer side effects. For this reason, it is often used to get quicker pain relief and control severe bone loss.
New treatments are always being tested in clinical trials and some patients with cancer may want to consider participating in one of these research studies. These studies are meant to help improve current cancer treatments or obtain information on new treatments. Talk to your doctor about the clinical trials that may be right for you.