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J Clin Oncol. 2003 Jan 1;21(1):16-9.

Thalidomide alone or with dexamethasone for previously untreated multiple myeloma.

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  • 1The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA. dmweber@mdanderson.org



To evaluate the activity of thalidomide in patients with asymptomatic multiple myeloma and of thalidomide-dexamethasone in patients with previously untreated symptomatic myeloma.


Twenty-eight patients with previously untreated asymptomatic myeloma were treated with thalidomide 100 to 200 mg orally (PO) at bedtime (qhs) with serial increments of 50 to 100 mg at weekly intervals, as tolerated to a maximum of 600 mg PO qhs. Forty consecutive previously untreated patients with symptomatic myeloma were also treated as above (maximum dose 400 mg) and received dexamethasone 20 mg/m(2) for 4 days beginning on days 1, 9, and 17; the second and third cycles of repeated dexamethasone were begun on day 30. Both groups of patients were treated for at least 3 months.


The response rate was 36% for patients treated with thalidomide alone and 72% for patients treated with thalidomide-dexamethasone, the latter including complete remission in 16% of patients. The median time to remission was 4.2 months with thalidomide alone and 0.7 months with thalidomide-dexamethasone. Grade 3 toxicity included infections (nine patients) and thrombotic/embolic events (seven patients). Five deaths have occurred as a result of multiple myeloma (two patients), infection (one patient), unknown cause (one patient), and a possible thromboembolic event (one patient).


Thalidomide alone was effective in patients with newly diagnosed myeloma. The combination with dexamethasone induced a high frequency of response, rapid onset of remission, and low incidence of serious irreversible toxicity. These observations support further studies of this promising combination for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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