How do Doctors Use Thalidomide for Myeloma? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
The doctor should be open about the potential risks and side effects of thalidomide for myeloma.
The doctor should be open about the potential risks and side effects of thalidomide for myeloma.

Doctors can use thalidomide for myeloma as a standalone medication or part of combination therapy to attack the myeloma and attempt to prevent recurrence or spread of the cancer. Myeloma is very difficult to treat, and studies in the 1990s illustrating that it responded to thalidomide were received with much interest in the medical community as a result. The dangers of thalidomide require doctors to tightly control the use of the medication, and patients may need to observe some special precautions while taking it.

Doctors sometimes prescribe aspirin along with thalidomide in order to prevent blood clots.
Doctors sometimes prescribe aspirin along with thalidomide in order to prevent blood clots.

Thalidomide was originally introduced to the market for the treatment of women with morning sickness during pregnancy. It was withdrawn several years later when practitioners realized the drug was causing severe birth defects because it interfered with fetal development. Despite a notorious reputation, the drug's potential applications continued to be researched, and it was discovered that thalidomide for myeloma could be beneficial, as the drug restricts bloodflow to the tumor and stimulates immune function, shrinking tumors and helping the body fight the cancer.

Patients may be required to take birth control while on thalidomide.
Patients may be required to take birth control while on thalidomide.

Doctors often offer thalidomide for myeloma with a steroid like prednisone. Concerns about blood clots while on this medication have led some care providers to recommend prophylactic treatment for clots, like aspirin therapy, along with careful monitoring of patients for any signs of clotting. In addition to clotting, patients can experience side effects like fatigue, constipation, and dizziness while taking thalidomide for myeloma.

Thalidomide was originally used for the treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy, but has since been noted as causing birth defects.
Thalidomide was originally used for the treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy, but has since been noted as causing birth defects.

The teratogenic effects of this drug mean that in some regions of the world, patients may be required to take birth control while on it. Patients may also need to register with a regulatory agency, submitting proof that they understand the risks and will take every reasonable precaution to avoid pregnancy. While patients with cancer are often unlikely to become pregnant, when they are on drugs known to cause fetal birth defects, their doctors want to be extremely careful.

Thalidomide for myeloma has been shown to be effective for both early and late treatment.
Thalidomide for myeloma has been shown to be effective for both early and late treatment.

Thalidomide for myeloma has been shown to be effective for both early and late treatment. Older patients with myeloma that has not been treated or has not responded well to treatment may benefit from therapy with this drug, along with patients of all ages who have been newly diagnosed. If thalidomide is an option for a patient, a doctor will discuss the medication and the potential risks and benefits. Patients may also want to ask about other treatment options, as myeloma treatment is always improving, and they should be aware that this treatment is still considered experimental in some parts of the world, and insurance companies may not cover it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • The doctor should be open about the potential risks and side effects of thalidomide for myeloma.
      The doctor should be open about the potential risks and side effects of thalidomide for myeloma.
    • Doctors sometimes prescribe aspirin along with thalidomide in order to prevent blood clots.
      Doctors sometimes prescribe aspirin along with thalidomide in order to prevent blood clots.
    • Patients may be required to take birth control while on thalidomide.
      Patients may be required to take birth control while on thalidomide.
    • Thalidomide was originally used for the treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy, but has since been noted as causing birth defects.
      Thalidomide was originally used for the treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy, but has since been noted as causing birth defects.
    • Thalidomide for myeloma has been shown to be effective for both early and late treatment.
      Thalidomide for myeloma has been shown to be effective for both early and late treatment.
    • Chemotherapy may be offered as a treatment option for individuals suffering from myeloma.
      Chemotherapy may be offered as a treatment option for individuals suffering from myeloma.
    • Side effects of thalidomide chemotherapy may be severe enough to affect the patient's quality of life.
      Side effects of thalidomide chemotherapy may be severe enough to affect the patient's quality of life.