Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer which forms inside of blood plasma cells. These cells are normally responsible for helping the body fight off infection by producing antibodies. Antibodies will track down and destroy any foreign bacteria which find their way into the blood, preventing illness. However, when infected with cancer, the plasma cells stop producing the helpful antibodies and instead begin multiplying in a harmful way, so as to prevent the body from functioning normally.
For instance, multiple myeloma is found inside bones within the bone marrow tissue. When the cancer begins to spread and multiply, it can cause damage to the bone, making it more likely to break. In addition, the body’s defense system and kidneys are also affected by this cancer.
Recent developments with RVD show increased cancer-free survival
An important development in the treatment of multiple myeloma was announced in April last year, when researchers discovered that a combination of three drugs – Bortezomib, Lenalidomide, and Dexamethasone – in addition to stem-cell transplantation was shown to significantly increase progression-free survival (meaning the length of time a patient lives with the disease without it getting worse).
Patients who were administered the three-drug combination alone, known as RVD, experienced 36 months of progression-free survival on average, compared to 50 months when stem-cell transplants were administered as well. Overall survival – around four years – did not differ much between the two treatments, but the increase of progression-free survival is promising nonetheless.
Previous to this, researchers had reported the significant improvements in the treatment of patients when Bortezomib was added to the previously conventional Lenalidomide and Dexamethasone combination treatment. In 2010, it was reported by Healio as being ‘the first time ever’ that a three-drug combination received a 100% response rate as well as tolerable side-effects in patients. This resulted in the development of the all-three RVD combination used last year.
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