After treatment for multiple myeloma
What follow-up do I need?
Once treatment is over and you are in remission, you will still need to go back to hospital for regular check-ups. This is called follow-up. It’s important to go to all your appointments, as they can help you to get treatment as soon as possible for any side-effects or symptoms or if the myeloma comes back.
- You will have blood and urine tests to check the levels of paraproteins. You may also need other tests like X-rays and scans, depending on the stage of your illness and if you have any symptoms.
- Your doctor will check the dose of any medications you’re taking. For example, antibiotics, antifungals, laxatives, or tablets to prevent sickness, heartburn, gout, blood clots and also any other medication you’re taking, including ‘over-the-counter’ and health shop products.
- You’ll get advice about vaccinations.
- You will have a chance to tell the doctor about side-effects or symptoms you’re having, or if you’re finding it hard to cope.
If you’re between check-ups and you have a symptom or problem that worries you, let your doctor know. Make an appointment to see them as soon as possible.
What if the cancer comes back?
If the myeloma cells come back after being treated it’s called a relapse. A relapse can happen during or soon after treatment, or months or years later. In some cases the multiple myeloma stops responding to treatment. This is called resistant (or refractory) myeloma.
Most multiple myeloma patients will relapse and go back into remission a number of times. Remission is where the bone marrow recovers and the symptoms of myeloma disappear.
Length of remission: Remissions can last for months or years. The first remission is usually the one that lasts the longest. Generally the remission period gets shorter after each relapse.
What treatment can I have?
Your doctor will look at different treatment options. If you’ve had a long remission (longer than a year) the same drugs as before may work for you. Or you may be given different chemotherapy drugs or targeted therapy drugs, usually with steroids.
Read more about why cancer can come back after treatment.
Feelings after treatment
It can take some time to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis, even after your treatment has ended. Read about feelings after treatment and where to get support.
Living with multiple myeloma
Multiple myeloma can affect you in various ways. Read some tips on living with multiple myeloma.
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