Multiple myeloma (MM) is a disease of the elderly with a median age at diagnosis of 67 years in a referral population. High-dose chemotherapy (HDT) and autologous stem cell transplantation has been shown to improve survival in patients with MM in randomized trials and remains the preferred option for eligible patients. However, the randomized clinical trials demonstrating an advantage for HDT included only patients younger than 65 years and evidence supporting its role for the elderly patients has been based on retrospective reviews. The introduction of thalidomide, lenalidomide and bortezomib has changed the paradigm for treatment of myeloma and improved the outcome for these patients. Several ongoing clinical trials are evaluating the role of these novel agents in this population, specifically comparing these to HDT-based approaches. Other trials are examining the role of maintenance therapy post-HDT with these novel drugs with or without steroids. The role of HDT will be further redefined in the coming years with improvements in other therapies.
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