Initial treatment

Here’s some information on what to expect from your initial myeloma treatment. Remember, we’re always on hand to offer support when you need it.

Treatment for myeloma is almost always with a combination of drugs. It’s usually given over a number of weeks, which may or may not be followed by a rest period. This pattern constitutes one cycle of treatment, and a series of treatment cycles is referred to as a course of treatment.

Your doctor may refer to all of your treatment as “chemo” or “chemotherapy” to keep things simple. In fact, treatment combinations are usually made up of two or three different types of drugs which work well together. These can include chemotherapy drugs, steroids and other types of anti-myeloma drugs.


Watch this video about chemotherapy treatment in myeloma:

Here are some of the most commonly used initial treatment combinations:

  • Bortezomib (Velcade®), thalidomide and dexamethasone (known as VTD)
  • Bortezomib (Velcade®), cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone (known as VCD)
  • Melphalan, prednisolone and thalidomide (known as MPT)
  • Cyclophosphamide, thalidomide and dexamethasone (known as CTD)
  • A different combination, find out more about clinical trials and novel drugs

The initial course of treatment tends to last four to six months. After this, some patients may be suitable to go on and have high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplant.


Watch this video about recovery from a stem cell transplant:

For a small number of younger patients, an allogeneic – or donor – stem cell transplant may be considered. Download the Infosheet.

You may also be prescribed other treatment to help prevent or manage potential side effects of your treatment. You might also be given other treatment to help with the symptoms and complications of myeloma. Find out more.

 How will you know if treatment is working?

Tests will be carried out on a regular basis to determine how you are responding to treatment. These will vary, but generally will include regular blood and/or urine tests, and occasional imaging tests or bone marrow investigations.

The signs that treatment is working include:

  • A fall in the paraprotein or light chain level
  • An improvement in symptoms and/or complications such as bone pain, anaemia and kidney function
  • A reduction in the number of myeloma cells in the bone marrow
  • An improvement in general health

What happens if treatment doesn’t work?

Not every patient responds well to the same treatment. Refractory myeloma is myeloma that has not responded to treatment.

There are, however, a number of different treatment options for myeloma. Many of the drugs used to treat myeloma work in different ways, so even if a patient does not respond well to one treatment combination this does not necessarily mean they won’t respond to a different combination. Find out about treatment for relapsed myeloma.

Further reading

Other important information

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