Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Primary dexamethasone treatment of multiple myeloma

  1. R Alexanian,
  2. MA Dimopoulos,
  3. K Delasalle, and
  4. B Barlogie
  1. University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.

Abstract

Intermittent courses of dexamethasone (DEX) were administered to 112 consecutive, previously untreated patients with multiple myeloma (MM). Using criteria based on a 75% or greater reduction of calculated tumor mass, the overall response rate was 43%. Among comparable patients, response rate were approximately 15% less than those observed previously with vincristine-doxorubicin by continuous infusion with intermittent DEX (VAD) and similar to those with melphalan-prednisone. The projected survival times with VAD or DEX were similar. Results indicated that DEX accounted for most of the plasma cell reduction achieved with VAD. Serious complications occurred in 27% of patients treated with VAD, but in only 4% of those who received DEX. In view of the similar outcome with fewer serious complications, DEX provided a simple, effective, and safe primary treatment for a large fraction of patients with MM. Patients who appear most likely to benefit include those with hypercalcemia or pancytopenia, or who require simultaneous radiotherapy for a pathologic fracture.