Multiple myeloma treatment has come a long way over the past decade. With five classes of medications to choose from — and with new treatments under review by medical researchers — patients now have more options than ever.
Here, we will review three of the top multiple myeloma treatment options from the five classes of medications. These treatments include monoclonal antibodies, immunomodulatory drugs and proteasome inhibitors. These medications all work in distinctly different ways, and each carries its own risks and side effects, so reviewing each option with your doctor is essential. Multiple myeloma is devastating, but these leading medications can help. Read on to learn more about the best multiple myeloma treatment options.
Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of the body’s natural proteins that are instrumental in fighting infections. When used to treat multiple myeloma, these medications are designed to target substances found on the surfaces of cancerous cells. Darzalex, available in generic form as daratumumab, attaches to the CD38 protein of myeloma cells. Empliciti, available in generic form as elotuzumb, is the other medication of this class, and it attaches to the SLAMF7 protein. Both of these treatments are associated with common side effects such as back pain, fatigue, coughing and nausea. More serious side effects such as trouble breathing, fever, wheezing and tightness in the throat can set in within a few hours for some patients.
Immunomodulatory drugs can increase the effectiveness of the body’s immune system to destroy multiple myeloma cells. Two of the most common medications of this class are Pomalyst and Revlimid. Pomalyst is available in generic form as pomalidomide, and Revlimid is available in generic form as lenalidomide. Both are associated with increased risks of blood clots and nerve damage; Pomalyst carries a lower risk of nerve damage but a higher risk of clots. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how these medications gain their effectiveness, and they can only be obtained through special programs from their manufacturers.
Proteasome inhibitors slow the spread of multiple myeloma cells by interrupting their cellular reproductive processes. They’re especially effective in slowing the growth of tumors. Kyprolis, available in generic form as carfilzomib, and Ninlaro, available in generic from as ixazombib, are two of the most common options in this class of drugs. Kyprolis is usually the first of the two options, and Ninlaro is often recommended when other drugs fail to yield satisfactory results. Both drugs can cause serious side effects, and common side effects include diarrhea, nausea and low blood platelet counts.