Multiple Myeloma

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Treating Multiple Myeloma TOPICS

Biologic therapy for multiple myeloma

Biologic therapy uses proteins that are normally found in the body to fight disease, even cancer.

Interferon is a hormone-like substance released by some white blood cells and bone marrow cells. When given as a drug, it can slow the growth of myeloma cells. Interferon is sometimes given to patients who have been treated with chemotherapy and the myeloma is in remission. Interferon seems to prolong remission. This drug can cause side effects that include fatigue and other symptoms similar to those from a flu infection. Some patients have trouble tolerating this, but overall the benefits of longer remission and fewer myeloma symptoms may outweigh these side effects.

Erythropoietin (Procrit®) and darbepoietin (Aranesp®) are drugs that can help correct anemia from low red blood cells and reduce the need for blood transfusions in some patients who are getting chemotherapy. But the FDA warns that some patients with lymphoid cancers, such as multiple myeloma, had shorter survival or their cancers re-grew when they used this type of drug.

Last Medical Review: 01/15/2013
Last Revised: 02/12/2013