Steroids for myeloma
Steroids (also known as corticosteroids) are hormones made naturally in the body. They can also be made artificially and used as drugs. These drugs modify the immune system’s responses, relieve swelling and inflammation, and actively kill myeloma cells.
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The typical steroids used for myeloma are dexamethasone and prednisolone or prednisone. These are usually given with chemotherapy or other anti-myeloma drugs.
Steroids are most often taken as tablets, but can also be given intravenously.
They are usually given in high doses, but for short periods only.
Common side effects include difficulty sleeping, mood changes, increased appetite, fluid retention, heartburn and weight gain.
To reduce the risk of sleeplessness at night and irritation to your stomach, take steroids in the morning with food or milk.
Some steroids can affect blood sugar levels. If used for a long period, steroids may cause diabetes. If you have diabetes, you will need to monitor your blood sugars more often. Ask your GP for a review, or call Diabetes Australia on 1300 136 588 to talk to a diabetes educator.
|Let your doctor know if you are finding it hard to cope with the side effects of steroids as they may be able to adjust your dose. Always consult your doctor if you want to reduce the dose or stop using steroids. Changing the dose or stopping steroids suddenly can cause serious withdrawal effects.|
Dr Jane Estell, Senior Staff Specialist, Haematology Department, Concord Cancer Centre, and Senior Clinical Lecturer, The University of Sydney; Brenda Clasquin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Jacqui Keogh, Senior Myeloma Support Nurse, Myeloma Australia; Dr Silvia Ling, Haematologist, Liverpool Hospital and Sydney Adventist Hospital; and John Miller, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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