Myeloma is a relapsing-remitting cancer, which sets it apart from many other cancers. ‘Relapsing-remitting’ means there are periods when the myeloma is active and causing problems in the body and needs to be treated. Treatment aims to bring the myeloma back under control and a period of plateau or remission follows.
After reaching remission or plateau, many patients will remain well for some time – it may be months or years before the myeloma becomes active again. However, at some point after a period of treatment and plateau or remission, the myeloma will become active again and further treatment is required. This is called a relapse.
A relapse following a period of remission or plateau is, unfortunately, inevitable at some point. Patients are monitored regularly to ensure that a relapse is detected as early as possible. Relapses can happen several times during the course of the disease.
Commonly used treatments for relapse
There are many effective treatment options for relapsed myeloma, here are some of the most frequently used:
- Bortezomib (Velcade®), cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone (known as VCD)
- Lenalidomide (Revlimid®) and dexamethasone
- Panobinostat (Farydak®), bortezomib (Velcade®) and dexamethasone
- Pomalidomide (Imnovid®) and dexamethasone
- Carfilzomib (Kyprolis®), lenalidomide (Revlimid®) and dexamethasone or carfilzomib and dexamethasone
- Ixazomib (Ninlaro®), lenalidomide (Revlimid®) and dexamethasone
- Daratumumab (Darzalex®)
- A second high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplant Download Infoguide
- Very rarely, an allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplant Download Infosheet
- DT-PACE Download Infosheet
- A different combination via a clinical trial – Find out more about clinical trials
Coping with a myeloma relapse
Accepting that your myeloma has relapsed can be difficult. Watch this video and find out how Martyn learnt to cope with his own myeloma relapse: