Targeted therapy drugs interfere with the way myeloma cells grow. Some targeted therapy drugs act on the immune system and help it to destroy myeloma cells. These are called immunotherapy drugs.

About targeted and immunotherapy for myeloma

Targeted therapy drugs interfere with the way myeloma cells grow. Some targeted therapy drugs act on the immune system and help it to destroy myeloma cells. These are also called immunotherapy drugs.

You usually have these drugs along with chemotherapy drugs and steroids. Sometimes 2 targeted drugs are given together.

Some people may continue to take these types of drugs to help keep myeloma in remission. Doctors call this maintenance treatment. It is usually done in a clinical trial. Your doctor will explain if this is suitable for you. They will go over the possible benefits and risks.

If the myeloma comes back (relapses) other targeted drugs can be used.

Your doctor and nurse will talk to you about the different treatment options.

Thalidomide

If you have just been diagnosed with myeloma you usually have thalidomide. You take it as a capsule.

Lenalidomide

You may have lenalidomide as a first treatment or when myeloma comes back. You take it as a capsule. It works in a similar way to thalidomide and has some of the same side effects.

Bortezomib

You may have bortezomib as a first treatment for myeloma or if myeloma comes back after other treatment. Bortezomib is usually given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously). Sometimes it is given into a vein. It may be given as a treatment in preparation for an autologous stem cell transplant.

If you have bortezomib (Velcade®) and thalidomide along with the steroid dexamethasone, this combination is called VTD.

Side effects of targeted therapy for myeloma

Targeted and immunotherapy drugs can cause different side effects. It is important to tell your cancer doctor or nurse about side effects. There are often ways they can be controlled or managed. If side effects are more serious, your doctor may need to reduce the dose or stop treatment for a while.

Both thalidomide and lenalidomide can cause birth defects in developing babies. Some people have to take part in a pregnancy prevention programme while taking these drugs. It is important not to get pregnant or make someone pregnant while taking these drugs. Your doctor or nurse will explain more about this.

Thalidomide and lenalidomide can also increase the risk of a blood clot developing. Your doctor may ask you to take drugs to thin your blood to reduce this risk.

Some other side effects of these drugs include:

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