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Chemotherapy for Multiple Myeloma

  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Chemotherapy for Multiple Myeloma

Chemotherapy (chemo) uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs are passed through the blood and travel through the body. It is mainly used to ease symptoms caused by multiple myeloma (MM) and prolong life. Chemo phases are:

  • Induction—To lower the amount of cancer cells in the body.
  • Consolidation—To kill any leftover cancer cells still in the body. It is done before a stem cell transplant.
  • Maintenance—Extends the time when the disease is not active to prolong life.

Chemotherapy Drugs and Delivery

There are many kinds of drugs that can be used. Chemo is most often given through an IV. It may be combined with other types of drugs designed to target the cancer cells or with corticosteroids to ease side effects. The care team will help to find the best combination for each person. The most common drugs are:

  • Thalidomide
  • Pomalidomide
  • Lenalidomide
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Melphalan
  • Vincristine


  • Chemotherapy and other drugs for multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/treating/chemotherapy.html.
  • Michels TC, Petersen KE. Multiple myeloma: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2017;95(6):373-383A.
  • Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma.
  • Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/plasma-cell-disorders/multiple-myeloma.
  • Toxicities of chemotherapeutic agents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115935/Toxicities-of-chemotherapeutic-agents.
  • Treatment options for plasma cell neoplasms. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq#_46.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.