We believe treating multiple myeloma aggressively on the front end is the key to long periods of remission, a longer life, and a better quality of life for multiple myeloma patients.
If you hit the myeloma cells hard at the beginning when they have not been exposed to treatment before, you will catch them off guard. Whereas, if you take the approach of starting off with less aggressive treatment and only moving to more aggressive treatment if a patient relapses, the myeloma cells have in the meantime grown smarter. The myeloma cells sense that you are trying to get rid of them, and they have time to grow resistant to treatment. Treatment will therefore ultimately be less effective.
We typically treat multiple myeloma with a regimen involving tandem (two) autologous stem cell transplants and maintenance therapy thereafter. This treatment method has been proven to result in median survival rates of 10+ years. No other treatment method for multiple myeloma has proven more effective in research studies.
When patients come to our clinic with myeloma-related conditions, the first thing we will need to determine is whether or not treatment is necessary. To make this determination, we will run a battery of tests that will help us see what type of myeloma a person has. Some types, like MGUS and asymptomatic myeloma, may require no treatment at all but rather careful monitoring to see if the disease progresses.
If treatment is needed, we will then work with the patient to determine a plan that is right for them. The standard of care for multiple myeloma patients typically involves treatment using autologous stem cell transplants. These are transplants in which the patient's own healthy stem cells are collected and then given back after the patient has received intensive chemotherapy.
Autologous transplants are our standard of care because the median survival rate associated with treatment using tandem (back-to-back) autologous transplants is significantly better than the survival rate with conventional chemotherapy treatment. Data show that with our tandem autologous transplant protocol, which includes an effective maintenance therapy plan after the transplants, half of myeloma patients will survive more than 10 years.
We realize, however, that autologous transplantation may not be the right option for every multiple myeloma patient. Some people may not be in proper health to receive this treatment and others may simply prefer a different method. Therefore, we also offer other kinds of treatment for multiple myeloma, including:
- Treatment with drugs like Velcade, Thalidomide, and Revlimid
- Treatment with a combination of newer drugs and conventional chemotherapy
- Clinical trials (evolving therapies)
More information about tandem autologous transplant.