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Other treatments for multiple myeloma include the following:

  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Biologic therapy
  • Anti-angiogenesis therapy

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Bone marrow is a soft, sponge-like material found inside certain bones, such as the heads of the femur and humerus, the sternum, and the hip bones. Bone marrow contains immature cells called stem cells. Stem cells can mature into blood cells (white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets). These are often damaged by cancer.

For a stem cell transplant , stem cells from the peripheral blood or bone marrow are collected and placed in frozen storage. Next, the cancer is treated with high-dose chemotherapy. After chemotherapy treatment is complete, the stem cells are put back into your body. They enter your blood stream and travel to your bone marrow. They replace damaged stem cells and begin to make healthy blood cells. If your own stem cells are used, the transplant is called autologous. If a donor's cells are used, it is called an allogeneic transplant.

Most patients continue to show signs of multiple myeloma even after bone marrow transplantation. And almost all patients develop myeloma again.

Special Considerations

One to three percent of patients die during treatment when the patient’s own cells are used. When donor cells are used, the rate increases to more than 20%. Autologous transplantation is safer, but both have risks. Neither method has been shown to be a cure.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you develop any of the following:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever, cough, runny nose, or red or swollen skin
  • Signs of abnormal bleeding, such as nosebleeds or bleeding gums

Biologic Therapy

Biologic therapies repair, promote, or raise the body’s response to cancer by affecting the immune system. These therapies can be used to fight cancer or to reduce the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you develop any of the following:

  • Any of the side effects mentioned above
  • Any new or unusual symptoms

Anti-angiogenesis Therapy

Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels. Some cancer tumors generate new blood vessels to increase their blood supply. It allows them to live and continue to grow. Anti-angiogenesis therapy attempts to block the blood supply to the tumor and destroy it.

There are different medications used for anti-angiogenesis therapy. Talk to your doctor about which ones may be helpful to you.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you develop any of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the feet or hands
  • Seizure activity
  • Skin rash
  • Fever

Revision Information

  • Cancer Medicine . 5th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker Inc; 2000.

  • Casciato D, Territo M. Manual of Clinical Oncology , sixth edition, 2009, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

  • Rakel R. Bope E, ed. Conn's Current Therapy . 54th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 439-443.

  • Treating multiple myeloma: bisphosphonates for multiple myeloma. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/MultipleMyeloma/DetailedGuide/multiple-myeloma-treating-bisphosphonates . Updated July 24, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Treating multiple myeloma: chemotherapy and other drugs for multiple myeloma. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/MultipleMyeloma/DetailedGuide/multiple-myeloma-treating-chemotherapy . Updated July 24, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Treating multiple myeloma: plasmapheresis for multiple myeloma. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/MultipleMyeloma/DetailedGuide/multiple-myeloma-treating-plasmapheresis . Updated July 24, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Treating multiple myeloma: radiation therapy for multiple myeloma. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/MultipleMyeloma/DetailedGuide/multiple-myeloma-treating-radiation . Updated July 24, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Treating multiple myeloma: stem cell transplant. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/MultipleMyeloma/DetailedGuide/multiple-myeloma-treating-stem-cell-transplant . Updated July 24, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated September 13, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.