What happens after treatment for multiple myeloma?
For most people, multiple myeloma never goes away completely. These people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy and other drugs, radiation therapy, or other therapies to try to help keep the cancer in check. Although there may be a time when they stop treatment for a time, most patients never really finish treatment. Follow up is needed for the doctor to know when to start treatment again. This can help prevent problems that can interfere with daily life.
Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. Our document, When Cancer Doesn't Go Away, talks more about this.
During and after treatment, it is very important to go to all follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, examine you, and order blood tests or imaging studies such as CT scans or x-rays. Follow-up is needed to see if more treatment is needed, and to check for any side effects. This is the time for you to talk to your cancer care team about any changes or problems you notice and any questions or concerns you have.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some last for a few weeks to several months, but others can be permanent. Don't hesitate to tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them.
It is also important to keep your medical insurance. Myeloma is rarely curable at this time. It may go away for a while, but the disease is likely to come back again. When that happens, the last thing you want is to have to worry about paying for treatment. The American Cancer Society document, When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence gives you information on how to manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer diagnosis and treatment, you may find yourself seeing a new doctor who does not know anything about your medical history. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Gathering these details soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them at some point in the future. Make sure you have the following information handy:
- A copy of your pathology report(s) from any biopsies or surgeries
- Copies of your lab results
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report(s)
- If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that doctors prepare when patients are sent home
- If you had radiation, a copy of the treatment summary
- Finally, since some drugs can have long-term side effects, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
The doctor may want copies of this information for his records, but always keep copies for yourself.
Last Medical Review: 01/15/2013
Last Revised: 02/12/2013