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Oncology (Williston Park). 2005 Dec;19(14):1781-92; discussion 1792, 1795-7.

New treatments for multiple myeloma.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


In 2004, multiple myeloma was diagnosed in more than 15,000 people in the United States and will account for approximately 20% of deaths due to hematologic malignancies. Although traditional therapies such as melphalan (Alkeran)/prednisone, combination chemotherapy with VAD (vincristine, doxorubicin [Adriamycin], and dexamethasone), and high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplantation have shown some success, median survival remains between 3 to 5 years. Treatment options for patients with multiple myeloma have increased in recent years, with the promise of improvement in survival. New agents, such as the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (Velcade), the antiangiogenic and immunomodulator thalidomide (Thalomid) and its analogs, such as lenalidomide (Revlimid), together with other small molecules, including arsenic trioxide (Trisenox), and other targeted therapies, have been studied alone and in combination with other antineoplastic therapies, either as induction therapy prior to stem cell transplantation or in patients with relapsed disease. Bortezomib recently was approved in the United States for the treatment of multiple myeloma in patients who have received at least one prior therapy. The use of bortezomib-based regimens as front-line therapy as well as the use of other agents in multiple myeloma remain under investigation, and approvals for both thalidomide and lenalidomide are hoped for soon, with the overall prospect of patient outcome continuing to be increasingly positive.

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