New effective treatments including thalidomide, bortezomib, and lenalidomide have replaced the former standard melphalan-prednisone (MP). MPT and melphalan-prednisone-bortezomib are the reference treatments for elderly patients ineligible for high-dose therapy.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a common disease among the elderly with a median age of 70 years at diagnosis and many patients diagnosed at ≥75 (~30%) and ≥85 years (~10%) [1, 2].
Treatments for myeloma
But when you have late-stage multiple myeloma, your symptoms may show up as:
Myeloma can be treated with combinations of different chemotherapy medicines. Chemotherapy treatment will take place over several months.
“I have seen patients live from several weeks to more than 20 years after being diagnosed,” Dr. Hillengass says. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of cells of the immune system which can cause symptoms like holes in the bones (osteolytic lesions), kidney failure, low blood counts and high calcium in the blood.
The SEER(Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) data for multiple myeloma has been published in 2013 by the National Cancer Institute, and the average life expectancy remains at 4 years for the third year in a row. However, some people beat the odds and live 10 to 20 years or more.
Since multiple myeloma makes your immune system weaker, you’ll need to steer clear of any foods that could make you sick, including:
Mayo Clinic is recognized as a multiple myeloma Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), funded by the National Cancer Institute.
Most people with smoldering multiple myeloma start treatment only when their condition becomes active. You and your doctor will know you’ve reached that point when test results show at least one other symptom, such as: Your bone marrow is 60% or more cancer cells.
Treatment for multiple myeloma can often help to control symptoms and improve quality of life. However, myeloma usually can’t be cured. This means additional treatment is needed when the cancer comes back (a relapse).
As active multiple myeloma gets worse, you’ll likely feel sicker, with fatigue or bone pain. You may have anemia, bleeding problems, or a lot of infections. Other symptoms of advanced multiple myeloma include unusual fractures, shortness of breath, weakness, feeling very thirsty, and belly pain.
Experiencing a Peaceful Passing Accounts of those who have accompanied a loved one as they died from complications of multiple myeloma generally report a relatively calm death in which pain has been effectively managed.
Treatments for myeloma can be very effective at controlling the disease, reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. Unfortunately, however, myeloma is currently an incurable (terminal) cancer. In general, treatment is given to: Reduce the levels of myeloma as far as possible.
You may need 4 to 6 cycles. The complete course of treatment usually takes a few months to finish. It depends on which treatments you are having and how well the myeloma responds to the drugs. Your doctor or nurse will explain more about this.
Sometimes, multiple myeloma can damage nerves, causing a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Sometimes, the abnormal proteins produced by myeloma cells can damage nerves. This damage can lead to weakness and numbness and sometimes a “pins and needles” sensation.