Old and new drugs may fight myeloma

3:16pm, November 15, 2004

From San Francisco, at the American Society of Hematology's 42nd annual meeting.

Two therapies may improve survival chances of people with a bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. At the least, they could delay the day when patients need to undergo a bone marrow transplant, a harsh procedure that carries lethal risks, say researchers.

A team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., reports that 6 of 16 patients with no outward symptoms of their multiple myeloma improved after treatment with the drug thalidomide.

Moreover, 20 of 26 patients with worsening cases of the disease showed gains after receiving thalidomide with dexamethasone, a steroid often administered in such cases, reports S. Vincent Rajkumar, a hematologist at the clinic. The researchers classified patients as improved if, after four monthly treatments, they showed normal concentrations of the white blood cells called plasma cells.

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