Myelom-Gruppe Rhein-Main

Last modified: 12 January 2013

Treatment with thalidomide

The use of thalidomide in the treatment of myeloma is a new therapeutic approach . Scientists have discovered that thalidomide can inhibit the formation of new blood vessels. The regeneration of blood vessels, also known as angiogenesis, is an indispensable prerequisite for the growth of tumours. In addition, thalidomide also appears to have an effect on the immune system. The aim of scientific research is to ascertain whether the growth of tumours can be slowed down by the use of thalidomide. Data gathered so far shows that up to 40% of pre-treated patients respond to thalidomide therapy. In the case of newly diagnosed patients, the combination of thalidomide and dexamethasone leads to remission in around 60 percent of cases, and the combination of thalidomide, dexamethasone and melphalan leads to remission for up to 80 percent of patients.

However thalidomide therapy can have side effects that not infrequently force the treatment to be broken off. Peripheral nerve damage, constipation, fatigue, a feeling of weakness and skin rashes can occur.

Thalidomide is currently used to treat newly diagnosed patients, patients in relapse or with primarily refractory disease, but also patients who have undergone successful initial therapy as maintenance treatment. However for maintenance therapy the dose needs to be greatly reduced and clear recommendations do not yet exist here. The results of trials are not yet available. (Information on clinical studies can be found here.)