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Onkologie. 2006 Dec;29(12):582-90. Epub 2006 Dec 11.

Maintenance therapy for multiple myeloma with particular emphasis on thalidomide.

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Klinik für Hämatologie/Onkologie, St. Marien-Hospital Hamm, Germany.


Treatment standards are changing as a result of new findings in the therapy of multiple myeloma. So far, prednisone, dexamethasone and interferon-a have mainly been used as maintenance therapy after achieving remission or stable disease. At present, thalidomide is being considered as a new therapeutic option in several studies investigating maintenance therapy. As a result of the dose dependence of adverse effects such as neuropathy, constipation, sedation/vertigo and bradycardia, individual adjustment of the thalidomide dose is recommended. Only isolated cases of thrombosis occurred in the maintenance phase of therapy, and discontinuation of therapy is generally not necessary. While important study results on the efficacy of thalidomide following conventional chemotherapy are still awaited, it is the best documented drug so far for maintenance therapy following autologous stem cell transplantation. An upgrade of the response was seen in 22-73% of patients, as well as a significant prolongation of progression-free survival. For the first time, maintenance therapy with thalidomide showed a significant improvement in overall survival in a phase III study published recently. The tolerability of thalidomide could be further improved by including the option of intermittent administration of the drug.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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