According to an article recently published in the journal Blood, adding Velcade® (bortezomib) to Alkeran® (melphalan) and prednisone may improve outcomes for newly diagnosed elderly patients with multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood that affects the plasma cells. Plasma cells are an important part of the immune system; they produce antibodies to help fight infection and disease. Multiple myeloma is characterized by an excess production of abnormal plasma cells. Symptoms include increased risk of bacterial infections and impaired immune responses.
Melphalan/prednisone (MP) is a standard treatment for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma; however, the treatment options for multiple myeloma are rapidly evolving as newer agents such as Velcade, Thalomid® (thalidomide), and Revlimid® (lenalidomide) are becoming more commonly used. Researchers continue to evaluate novel treatment strategies in order to offer all patients optimal and individualized therapeutic approaches.
Researchers from Spain recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the treatment combination consisting of Velcade, Alkeran, and prednisone for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma among elderly patients. This trial included 60 patients between the ages of 65 and 85 years of age who had not received prior therapies. Fifty-three patients completed at least one cycle of therapy and were evaluated for responses. These results were compared to historical experiences of patients with this disease who were treated with Alkeran and prednisone (MP).
- Anticancer responses were observed in 89% of patients treated with Velcade/MP, compared with only 35% for those treated with MP only.
- At 16 months progression-free survival was 92% for patients treated with Velcade/MP, compared with only 65% of patients treated with MP only.
- At 16 months overall survival was 90% for patients treated with Velcade/MP, compared with only 62% of those treated with MP.
The researchers stated that the addition of Velcade to MP provides impressive anticancer responses and overall survival compared to MP alone in elderly patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. The authors suggest that this may be an appropriate treatment for patients who are not eligible for a stem cell transplant. Elderly patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Velcade.
Reference: Mateos M-V, Hernandez J-M, Hernandez M-T, et al. Bortezomide plus melphalan and prednisone in elderly untreated patients with multiple myeloma: results of a multicenter phase ½ study. Blood. 2006;108:2165-2172.
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