About chemotherapy for myeloma
This page tells you about chemotherapy for myeloma. You can find the following information
About chemotherapy for myeloma
Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. These drugs work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. The drugs circulate around the body in the bloodstream.
The type of chemotherapy you have will depend on whether or not your doctor is planning for you to have a stem cell transplant. You can have chemotherapy drugs for myeloma by mouth as tablets (orally), or into your vein (intravenously).
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating myeloma section.
Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. They work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. The drugs circulate around the body in the bloodstream. The type of chemotherapy you have will depend on whether or not your doctor is planning for you to have a stem cell transplant. If you have a stem cell transplant you will have high dose chemotherapy through a central line or PICC line.
Some types of chemotherapy for myeloma are tablets that you swallow. Others are a liquid given into your vein.
Many people have chemotherapy for myeloma as tablets. The most commonly used drug is cyclophosphamide. Doctors often give a steroid drug called dexamethasone with this chemotherapy and the biological therapy thalidomide. You may see or hear this combination called CTD.
If you are aged over 70 and are not having a stem cell transplant your doctor may use a chemotherapy drug called melphalan (Alkeran) with the steroid prednisolone. This combination is called MP. You may also have the biological therapy thalidomide. This combination is called MPT. Or you may have MP with bortezomib (Velcade). This is called VMP. The dose of these drugs may be lowered to reduce the side effects. You may hear this called an attenuated dose.
Taking chemotherapy by mouth as tablets is now the standard treatment for myeloma. Chemotherapy drugs through a drip into a vein (intravenously – IV) are used much less often than in the past. If you do have drugs into a vein, you will usually have a combination of chemotherapy, steroids and a biological therapy. The most common combination is PAD (Adriamycin (doxorubicin), bortezomib (Velcade) and the steroid drug dexamethasone).
When you have chemotherapy by vein, it can mean a short stay in hospital. But if you are well enough you might be able to have your chemotherapy at home through a small chemotherapy pump.
We don't yet know much scientifically about how some nutritional or herbal supplements may interact with chemotherapy. Some could be harmful. It is very important to let your doctors know if you take any supplements. Or if you are prescribed any remedies by alternative or complementary therapy practitioners.
Talk to your specialist about any other tablets or medicines you take while you are having treatment.
Some studies seem to suggest that fish oil preparations may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. If you are taking or thinking of taking these supplements talk to your doctor to find out whether they could affect your treatment.
There is information about the chemotherapy drugs used to treat myeloma on the next page in this section. For more general information look at the main chemotherapy section. It explains the treatment in detail including
- How chemotherapy works
- How chemotherapy is planned
- How you have chemotherapy
- General side effects
- Living with chemotherapy
You can phone the Cancer Research UK information nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have.
If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you can use CancerChat, our online forum.
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