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Treatment for myeloma

The treatment you receive for myeloma is dependent on a number of factors such as:

  • The stage of your myeloma
  • Your overall health
  • How old you are
  • Any treatment you have had previously.

For people undergoing treatment who have symptoms, the treatment will be targeted at minimising the amount of myeloma with the aim of achieving remission for as long as possible, or to stabilise the myeloma and stop its progression.

Common treatments used to treat myeloma include:

  • Chemotherapy – the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.
  • cortico-steroids – hormones used in the treatment of disease.
  • Interferon – substances produced by the body that can help the immune system fight cancer. Interferon can slow the growth of cancer cells or make them act like normal cells.
  • blood stem cell transplantation – replaces stem cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The stem cells help the bone marrow recover and continue to produce healthy blood cells.
  • targeted therapies – drugs that attack specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells to stop the cancer growing and spreading.
  • immunotherapies – the use of specific drugs to stimulate the ability of the body’s own immune system to fight disease.
  • radiation therapy – uses a controlled dose of radiation, such as focused x-ray beams, to kill or damage cancer cells
  • bisphosphonates – drugs that help make weak bones stronger and less likely to break.
  • clinical trial drugs not available for general use – drugs that are used as part of a research study to find better ways to prevent or treat disease.

Depending on how effective your treatment is, and the side effects you experience, you may require more than one type of treatment over time.

Download our booklet ‘Understanding Chemotherapy’

Download our fact sheet ‘Understanding Targeted Therapy’

Download our fact sheet ‘Understanding Immunotherapy’

Download our booklet ‘Understanding Radiation Therapy’

Download our booklet ‘Understanding Clinical Trials and Research’

This information is reviewed by

This information was written and last reviewed in September 2020 by Cancer Council SA's experienced information team with support from national Cancer Council publications.