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Cancer - multiple myeloma

Q: My father is suffering with multiple myeloma. He was treated with chemotherapy after which interferon alfa 2a was continued. This time protein profile and beta2 microglobulin are under control. Please tell me about future planning.

A:Interferon alpha maintenance therapy in myeloma can extend the duration of the response achieved with chemotherapy (high dose-autotransplantation) by approximately 12-15 months. However relapse of the disease will eventually occur. The drug has not been shown to prolong the survival of the patients. Tolerance to the drug is a problem as it can cause depression, flu-like symptoms, drop in blood counts.

If your father has had a good response to chemotherapy and is tolerating the interferon well, I would suggest he continue interferon indefinitely until relapse. If he has not had a stem cell transplant, he should do so, or atleast have stem cells collected as prolonged therapy with interferon may adversely affect stem cell collection. I am aware that Tata hospital in Bombay and AIIMS in Delhi are doing stem cell collections and transplants. Good Luck!

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