Although there have been many definitions for high-risk (HR) myeloma, most recent consensus for classifying risk in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (NMM) comes from the International Myeloma Working Group. This recently published revised International Staging System includes del(17p) or t(4;14) by fluorescence in situ hybridization, b-2 microglobulin, albumin, and lactate dehydrogenase. These elements should be captured in all NMM patients. The optimal treatments for HR myeloma have not been fully worked out; therefore, these patients should be considered for clinical trials. Outside of the trial setting for those patients who are not eligible for autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT), a regimen with bortezomib, but not thalidomide, should be considered, with a duration of therapy of at least 1 year. The regimen with the best results to date is bortezomib, melphalan, and predisone. A nonthalidomide maintenance could also be considered. In patients who are eligible for ASCT, an induction regimen with bortezomib and an immunomodulatory drug should be administered for 3 to 6 months followed by 2 ASCTs. Finally, a consolidation/maintenance regimen containing at least 1 year of bortezomib should be administered followed by maintenance thereafter. For patient convenience, an oral agent that is not thalidomide could be prescribed as maintenance. Finally, in patients with HR myeloma, allogeneic SCT may be associated with reasonable outcomes, but this too will require further research.
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