Chemotherapy for myeloma
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with anti-cancer drugs called cytotoxics. The aim of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells while doing the least possible damage to healthy cells.
The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for myeloma include melphalan and cyclophosphamide.
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Some people can have all their chemotherapy as tablets. Others have the drugs injected into a vein (intravenously) or under the skin (subcutaneously). You may need to stay in hospital for some treatments, but this stay is usually short.
Your doctor will tell you about the drugs you are having and how long treatment will last. You may have chemotherapy in combination with other treatments, such as one of the immunomodulator drugs or proteasome inhibitors used for myeloma.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause side effects, such as feeling sick (nausea), fatigue, loss of hair from the body and head, a drop in blood count, mouth sores, diarrhoea and a weakened immune system.
These side effects are temporary and there are ways to prevent or reduce them. Tell your doctor or nurse about any side effects that you experience. Your doctor may prescribe medicine, consider a break in your treatment, or change the treatment you are having.
For more on this, see Chemotherapy.
Video: What is chemotherapy?
Prof John Gibson, Haematologist, Institute of Haematology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Stephanie Anderson, Registrar, Institute of Haematology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Tanya Carney, Consumer; Jacqui Keogh, NSW State Manager/Senior Myeloma Nurse NSW, Myeloma Australia; Dr Silvia Ling, Haematologist, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Rachel McCann, Myeloma Support Nurse NSW, Myeloma Australia; John McMath, Consumer; Karen Robinson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW.
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