Treatment Options For Multiple Myeloma And Their Possible Side-Effects

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that occurs in bones, here are some treatment options and their possible side-effects.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalUpdated at: Jul 01, 2021 12:22 IST
Treatment Options For Multiple Myeloma And Their Possible Side-Effects

Multiple Myeloma is a type of cancer that forms in white blood cells. In this disease the cancerous cells acquire and accumulate in the bone marrow that destroys the healthy blood cells. This result to spread of cancer infection in the body and abnormal levels of proteins produced by these cancer cells cause health complications which are tough to recover from. Although treatment options are available for this cancer but those treatments does have some side effects that cannot be ignored. Multiple myeloma is a gradual growing cancer and needs to be diagnosed well before taking any treatment option. Today, we will discuss some treatments that are available for controlling this disease.

Are Treatments for Multiple Myeloma Safe?

The catch is that even though some treatment procedure have side effects on the body, it is still safer to fall for this cancer. Dr. Sunil Agarwal, Consultant Surgical Oncologist at NMR Cancer Hospital, Kochi, further briefs on this issue. He says it is common for people to get concerned about any treatment regarding cancer. It is true that some treatment options like chemotherapy or immunotherapy may affect your health but it is still safe. 


Condition of patient suffering from multiple myeloma is largely dependent on factors like age and previous medical history. People who have history of renal failure or disease affecting central nervous system may find it comparatively long to recover. Those who are above 65 years may be affected by some of the treatments thus consulting your doctor in such case is very important.

Treatment Methods and Side-effects Of Multiple Myeloma

1. Stem Cell Transplant 

Stem Cell Transplant is the main treatment which is used to cure multiple myeloma. This treatment method is highly dependent on chemotherapy that kills both the healthy cells and cancerous cells in your bone marrow. Stem cell transplant is often used to for treating people less than the age of 65 so that there is no considerable risk for this therapy. Stem cell transplant allows new stem cells to replace the previous cells in your bone marrow and eradicate the cancer. In most of the cases the stem cells are collected from higher dose chemotherapy which is also called autologous stem cell transplant. 

There is a procedure that you need to go through before going for stem cell therapy. These procedures are important to remove the cancer cells from the body and make sure multiple myeloma does not reoccur in your body. Procedure can include one or combination of therapies, which are as follows-


2.Targeted therapy


4.Corticosteroid therapy


All these therapies affect your body in a certain way as they include radiations. These are possible side-effects may happen after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Low blood count in person

2. Targeted Therapy 

This is a type of cancer treatment in which drugs are used to target the excessive protein built inside your body. These proteins are present on the cancer cells and can spread the cancer throughout as well as cause many complications. Targeted therapy uses drugs to kill and eradicate those proteins present on cancer cells in a way that it does not affect the healthy cells too much. It can be given by mouth or injection and the frequency depends on the target area and the drug used for the therapy. Targeted therapy is generally used for induction or maintenance therapy before stem cell transplant.

Targeted therapies used for multiple myeloma are-

1.Monoclonal antibodies

2.Proteasome inhibitors 

3.Histone deacetylase inhibitors 

4.Nuclear export inhibitors

Possible Side Effects for Targeted therapy-

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Neck pain
  • Low blood count
  • Heavy cough
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weakness
  • Swelling in arms or legs

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3. Immunotherapy

This treatment is used to strengthen your immune system and respond to cancer cells so that your body is able to recover faster. Immunotherapy can be of different types; in most cases immune-modulators and CAR T-cell therapy are used to treat the patient. This therapy is used for maintenance therapy and to make the person eligible for stem cell transplant. 

Side-effects of immunotherapy can include-

  • Neuropathy
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Low blood count
  • Fatigue
  • Allergic reaction 
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness

4.  Corticosteroid therapy

Corticosteroid drugs have antitumor effect of multiple myeloma and hence it can be very beneficial for treatment of this cancer. This therapy is used as a part of treatment during stem cell transplant and otherwise as well. More than often corticosteroid therapy is used along with other treatments for maximum effect. It has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects on the person. 

There could be some possible side-effects of this therapy that can include-

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased blood sugar level
  • Risk of infections
  • Irritability

5. Radiation Therapy

This is a widely-used therapy to treat multiple myeloma and other types of cancer as well. Radiation therapy makes use of high-energy radiations that kill the cancer cells and stop them from growing. It is given along chemotherapy during stem cell transplant. This therapy treats bone disease and complications that occur in the bone of the patient. For multiple myeloma, external radiation therapy is used for targeting location of cancer cells in the body. Due to radiations, it can have side effects as well. 

Side-effects of Radiation therapy are-

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Redness in skin exposed to radiation
  • Low blood count

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All the therapies mentioned above are used to treat cancer cells in multiple myeloma. They are used for stem cell transplant which is the basic need for the patient suffering from this type of cancer. These therapies complement each other and help the person recover from this life-threatening disease. Side-effects tend to occur in most of the therapies but can controlled with help of medications prescribed by doctor.

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