recommended as initial therapy. Various combinations of drugs are now available with high RR. Recent data suggest that the upfront combination of a PI plus one IMiD or an alkylating agent is highly effective. Bortezomib–, thalidomide– and dexamethasone (VTD) has proved to be highly effective as a frontline treatment and is significantly superior to VAD or Thal-Dex before and after ASCT with a very manageable pattern of toxicity. VTD is widely used and recommended as induction and/or consolidation therapies in ASCT eligible patients, based on three Phase III trials. The IFM 2013 04 study comparing VTD and VCD (bortezomib, cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone) as induction before HDT is ongoing. The most promising three-drug association might be bortezomib, lenalidomide and dexamethasone (RVD). RVD is the current combination studied within the IFM 2009 trial. Addition of a fourth drug has not proved to be more efficient in the EVOLUTION trial as this is generally more toxic.
In patients not eligible for ASCT, the combinations melphalan–prednisone– thalidomide (MPT), bortezomib– melphalan–prednisone (VMP) and, very recently, lenalidomide–dexamethasone (RD) have shown improved PFS and OS. Following this induction/consolidation phase, some controversy remains as to whether patients should stay on treatment (continuous or maintenance therapies) or discontinue therapy for a ‘treatment-free interval’.19
In the setting
of HDT, lenalidomide maintenance resulted in a markedly prolonged PFS that did not translate into a prolonged OS. Similarly in elderly patients, continuous RD was superior to fixed 18-cycle RD in terms of PFS but with only a slight difference regarding OS.20
Supportive care is very important and includes management of anaemia, pain, hypercalcaemia, skeletal complications, infections, and adequate nutrition.
Despite improvements in survival, all patients will ultimately relapse and the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory MM remains a challenge. This is discussed in detail in a later article. The remission duration in relapsed myeloma decreases with each regimen. On the molecular level, while one dominant clone may be eliminated with
induction/consolidation therapies, residual minor clones are likely to expand with this resetting of the clonal dynamics and hence herald a clinical relapse.
A number of drugs are approved and many combinations can be used as relapse therapy, carfilzomib (Kyprolis®
pomalidomide, and panobinostat (HDAC inhibitor) having been recently registered by the US Food and Drug Administration. In Europe, only pomalidomide received European Medicine Agency approval. Unfortunately, the duration of responses is limited and all patients will develop progressive disease.
In patients with relapsed MM, the choice of salvage therapy should take into account the age as well as other co- morbidities such as renal failure and diabetes. It should be individualised and must depend on the following considerations: did the initial therapy comprise novel agents and/or ASCT? What was the degree and duration of response to last therapy? What were the previous toxicities? What is the type of relapse and performance status? Do we have any clinical trial data available? Once again, the three-drug
combination of a PI and an IMiD in Phase III trials demonstrated high response rates and prolonged survivals. The ASPIRE trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed an eight-month PFS improvement with the KRD regimen over the standard RD until progression or intolerance (26.3 vs 17.6 months).21 Results of the combination of ixazomib (PI) to RD are awaited and should be reported during the 2015 ASCO meeting. Monoclonal antibodies such as anti-CD38 (daratumumab, SAR650984 and MOR202)/anti SLAMF7 (elotuzumab) and small inhibitor molecules, such as Filanesib or Selinexor, have shown promise in the relapsed-refractory setting and could potentially change the future of relapsed MM. ●
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2. Ferlay J et al. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: estimates for 40 countries in 2012. Eur J Cancer 2013;49:1374–403.
3. Kyle RA. Multiple myeloma: how did it begin? Mayo Clin Proc 1994;69:680–3.
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14. Hebraud B et al. Role of additional chromosomal changes in the prognostic value of t(4;14) and del(17p) in multiple myeloma: the IFM experience. Blood 2015;125:2095–100.
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20. Benboubker L et al. Lenalidomide and dexamethasone in transplant-ineligible patients with myeloma. N Engl J Med 2014;371:906–17.
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