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Multiple myeloma in the very elderly patient: challenges and solutions

Authors Willan J, Eyre T, Sharpley F, Watson C, King AJ, Ramasamy K

Received 16 December 2015

Accepted for publication 3 February 2016

Published 15 April 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 423—435


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

John Willan,1 Toby A Eyre,1,2 Faye Sharpley,1 Caroline Watson,1 Andrew J King,1,3 Karthik Ramasamy1,4

1Department of Hematology, 2Early Phase Clinical Trial Unit, Oxford University Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK; 3Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK; 4National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Center Blood Theme, Oxford, UK

Abstract: Diagnosis and management of myeloma in the very elderly patient is challenging. Treatment options have vastly improved for elderly myeloma patients but still require the clinician to personalize therapy. In this paper, we offer evidence-based, pragmatic advice on how to overcome six of the main challenges likely to arise: 1) diagnosis of myeloma in this age group, 2) assessment of the need for treatment, and the fitness for combination chemotherapy, 3) provision of the best quality of supportive care, 4) choice of combination chemotherapy in those fit enough for it, 5) treatment of relapsed myeloma, and 6) provision of end of life care. With an increased burden of comorbidities and a reduced resilience to treatment and its associated toxicities, the management of myeloma in this age group requires a different approach to that in younger patients to maximize both quality and length of life.

Keywords: myeloma, elderly, diagnosis, treatment 

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