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Blood Rev. 2011 Mar;25(2):65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.blre.2010.10.003. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Management of older patients with multiple myeloma.

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Myeloma Unit, Division of Hematology, University of Torino, AOU San Giovanni Battista, Torino, Italy.


For many years, the oral combination melphalan-prednisone (MP) has been considered the standard of care for patients with multiple myeloma (MM) not eligible for autologous stem cell transplantation. In the era of novel agents, the introduction of immunomodulatory drugs and proteasome inhibitors has challenged the role of MP and led to new standards of care for this disease. Five randomized phase III studies compared the traditional MP with the MP plus thalidomide (MPT). All these studies showed a prolonged time to progression (TTP) with the 3-drug combination. However, in only two of these trials this advantage translated into an improvement in overall survival (OS). In another randomized trial, MP plus bortezomib (VMP) was correlated with an increase in both TTP and OS compared with MP. Preliminary data showed the superiority of the association of VMP plus thalidomide followed by bortezomib-thalidomide maintenance (VMPT-VT) vs VMP and melphalan-prednisone-lenalidomide followed by lenalidomide maintenance (MPR-R) compared to MP. Promising results have also been reported with the combination of lenalidomide plus low-dose dexamethasone. The availability of different efficacious regimens provided clinicians with the opportunity of tailoring the proper and specific approach for each patient. The choice should be based on patients' comorbidities and biologic age, while taking into account the expected toxicity profiles of each treatment regimen. Moreover, an accurate management of therapy-related adverse events and a gentler approach, particularly for patients older than 75 years, with appropriate age-adjusted dose reductions, should be considered to further improve outcome.

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