Multiple Myeloma Overview

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Treating Multiple Myeloma TOPICS

Plasmapheresis for multiple myeloma

For this treatment, a machine removes blood from a vein. The blood cells are then separated from the plasma (the liquid part of the blood) and returned into another vein. The large amounts of abnormal proteins released by the myeloma cells are in the plasma. The plasma is discarded and replaced with a salt solution and plasma from donors.

Plasmapheresis is helpful when the build-up of myeloma proteins thickens the blood and slows circulation. While this treatment lowers protein levels and relieves some symptoms for a time, it does not kill the myeloma cells. Without further treatment, the level of myeloma protein will just go back up again. For that reason, plasmapheresis is often followed by chemotherapy or some other type of drug treatment to kill the cells that make the proteins.

Last Medical Review: 02/01/2013
Last Revised: 02/13/2013