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, doxorubicin 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 while having some chemotherapy treatments, but this stay is usually short. Your doctor will tell you about the drugs you are having and how long treatment will last.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause side effects, such as feeling sick (nausea), fatigue, hair loss, a drop in blood count, mouth sores, diarrhoea and a weakened immune system. In some cases, people may develop peripheral neuropathy (tingling in hands and feet) after chemotherapy.
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 information, see the Managing symptoms and side effects.
For more on this, see Chemotherapy.
Video: What is chemotherapy?
Learn more about chemotherapy in this short video.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Dr Ian Bilmon, Haematologist, Westmead Hospital and The Sydney Adventist Hospital; Martin Boling, Consumer; Catherine Bowley, Myeloma Support Nurse, Myeloma Australia; Dr Samuel Dickson, Radiation Oncologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle; Rachelle Frith, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Haematology, Prince of Wales Hospital; Dr Wojt Janowski, Haematologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW.
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