Bone marrow cancer drug regime `could triple success rate`

The regime, which incorporates the bortezomib drug, alongside two other drugs, can be used to treat newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma who are suitable for bone marrow transplant.

Updated: Dec 10, 2010, 17:54 PM IST

London: Scientists claim to have found evidence that a new treatment regime for patients with bone marrow cancer could triple success rates.
A new study, published in `The Lancet` journal, has suggested that the regime, which incorporates the bortezomib drug, alongside two other drugs, can be used to treat newly
diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma who are suitable for bone marrow transplant.

Multiple myeloma is a type of bone marrow cancer that affects the plasma cells, which are a kind of white blood cells that occur in the bone marrow. The disease occurs due to
plasma cells - which produce antibodies - growing abnormally.

With the growth of the plasma cell tumor, the surrounding bone is also destroyed. These effects result in an impaired immune system, damage to the kidneys, and pain in the bones. The disease is referred to as multiple myeloma since it affects multiple sites of the body where bone marrow occurs.

In the Italian study, the scientists found that 11 per cent of patients who took thalidomide and dexamethasone and were then given a transplant were later found to be free of signs of cancer.

By comparison, 31 per cent of those who took the three drugs together were found to be free of signs of cancer after transplant, the scientists say.

The regime also significantly increased the proportion of patients surviving to three years after diagnosis without the cancer developing further, up from 56 to 68 per cent, `The
Daily Telegraph` reported.

However, these drugs are only useful for some bone marrow cancer patients. For others, doctors say chemotherapy is better.

PTI