Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that typically help fight infection and disease. When plasma cells become cancerous, they can crowd out other blood cells, leading to anemia, infection, and damage to bones, cartilage, and soft tissue. Treatment for multiple myeloma may include chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.
However, multiple myeloma treatment is complex, and each patient may need to receive different variants or a combination of different treatments. In this article, we’re doing a quick review of the most critical aspects of multiple myeloma treatment.
Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments used to treat multiple myeloma. Chemotherapy uses drugs to attack cancer cells, and these drugs can also affect normal tissue but have a selectivity to cells that divide very rapidly, as cancer does. Chemotherapy has been used to treat cancer since the early 1960s and is still one of the most effective treatments for many types of cancer, including multiple myeloma.
It works by targeting the rapidly dividing cancer cells and blocking their growth through different mechanisms, and activating different enzymes. The main chemotherapy drugs are alkylating agents, antimetabolites, and anthracyclines. Alkylating agents are drugs that block the ability of DNA to replicate itself, and this stops the cell from dividing and therefore stops it from growing. Antimetabolites stop cells from making the building blocks for new proteins. This prevents the cell from dividing and causes it to die. Anthracyclines work by breaking down the genetic material inside the cell, causing it to stop functioning and die.