Adults who have certain types of cancer that affect the lymphatic system or plasma cells may receive a medicine called Velcade. It works by blocking the action of certain proteins found within the cancer cells, causing them to die. There are also unapproved ("off-label") uses for Velcade, such as treating amyloidosis or certain types of T-cell lymphomas.
What Is Velcade Used For?Velcade® (bortezomib) is an injectable prescription chemotherapy medication. It is approved for the treatment of the following conditions:
- Multiple myeloma
- Mantle cell lymphoma.
Using Velcade for Multiple MyelomaMultiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells, which are primarily found in the bone marrow (the spongy, middle part of some bones). Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that produce infection-fighting proteins called antibodies. Antibodies recognize and attach to substances found on the surface of certain toxins, such as bacteria or viruses, marking them for destruction by the immune system.
Multiple myeloma occurs when normal plasma cells become cancerous and begin to rapidly divide without control. These cancerous cells are called myeloma cells. Myeloma cells produce antibodies that are unable to fight infection.
Early in the disease, people with multiple myeloma may not experience any symptoms. As the disease progresses, however, the bones may become damaged and break, causing bone pain.
Also, the myeloma cells eventually crowd out normal, healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, and the abnormal antibodies crowd out normally functioning antibodies. This can lead to symptoms such as anemia (from low levels of red blood cells) and frequent infections.
(Click Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma to learn about other possible symptoms associated with this condition.)
Velcade is used to treat multiple myeloma in people who have not yet received any treatment for the cancer, as well as those who have already undergone some type of treatment without success. When used as an initial treatment, Velcade is normally given in combination with melphalan (Alkeran®) and prednisone.