Recommendations

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.

Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off‑label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

1.1 Communication and support

1.1.1 Provide information and support to people with myeloma or primary plasma cell leukaemia and their family members or carers (as appropriate), particularly at diagnosis, at the beginning and end of each treatment, at disease progression and at transition to end of life care.

1.1.2 Consider providing the following information in an individualised manner to people with myeloma and their family members or carers (as appropriate):

  • the disease process, relapse and remission cycle, and the person's overall prognosis

  • the treatment plan, including (if appropriate) the process and the potential benefits, risks and complications of stem cell transplantation

  • symptoms of myeloma and treatment‑related side effects (including steroid‑related side effects, infection and neuropathy)

  • lifestyle measures to optimise bone health and renal function

  • how to identify and report new symptoms (especially pain and spinal cord compression)

  • the role of supportive and palliative care

  • how to access peer support and patient support groups.

1.1.3 Offer prompt psychological assessment and support to people with myeloma at diagnosis and (as appropriate) at the beginning and end of each treatment, at disease progression and at transition to end of life care.

1.1.4 Refer people who are assessed as needing further psychological support to psychological services.

1.1.5 Advise family members or carers (as appropriate) about the range of available local and national support services at diagnosis, at the beginning and end of each treatment, at disease progression and at transition to end of life care.

1.1.6 For guidance on communication and patient‑centred care see the NICE guideline on patient experience in adult NHS services.

1.2 Laboratory investigations

Laboratory investigations for people with suspected myeloma

1.2.1 Use serum protein electrophoresis and serum‑free light‑chain assay to confirm the presence of a paraprotein indicating possible myeloma or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).

1.2.2 If serum protein electrophoresis is abnormal, use serum immunofixation to confirm the presence of a paraprotein indicating possible myeloma or MGUS.

1.2.3 Do not use serum protein electrophoresis, serum immunofixation, serum‑free light‑chain assay or urine electrophoresis (urine Bence–Jones protein assessment) alone to exclude a diagnosis of myeloma.

1.2.4 When performing a bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of myeloma, use morphology to determine plasma cell percentage and flow cytometry to determine plasma cell phenotype.

1.2.5 For guidance on the setup of laboratory diagnostic services see the NICE cancer service guidance on improving outcomes in haematological cancers.

Laboratory investigations to provide prognostic information

1.2.6 Use the same sample for all diagnostic and prognostic tests on bone marrow, so people only have to have one bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy.

1.2.7 When performing a bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy to provide prognostic information:

  • Perform fluorescence in‑situ hybridisation (FISH) on CD138‑selected bone marrow plasma cells to identify the adverse risk abnormalities t(4;14), t(14;16), 1q gain, del(1p) and del(17p)(TP53 deletion). Use these abnormalities alongside International Staging System (ISS) scores to identify people with high‑risk myeloma.

  • Consider performing FISH on CD138‑selected bone marrow plasma cells to identify the adverse risk abnormality t(14;20), and the standard risk abnormalities t(11;14) and hyperdiploidy.

  • Consider performing immunophenotyping of bone marrow to identify plasma cell phenotype, and to inform subsequent monitoring.

  • Consider performing immunohistochemistry (including Ki‑67 staining and p53 expression) on the trephine biopsy to identify plasma cell phenotype and give an indication of cell proliferation, to provide further prognostic information.

1.2.8 Perform serum‑free light‑chain assay and use serum‑free light‑chain ratio to assess prognosis.

1.3 Imaging investigations

Imaging for people with suspected myeloma

1.3.1 Offer imaging to all people with a plasma cell disorder suspected to be myeloma.

1.3.2 Consider whole‑body MRI as first‑line imaging.

1.3.3 Consider whole‑body low‑dose CT as first‑line imaging if whole‑body MRI is unsuitable or the person declines it.

1.3.4 Only consider skeletal survey as first‑line imaging if whole‑body MRI and whole‑body low‑dose CT are unsuitable or the person declines them.

1.3.5 Do not use isotope bone scans to identify myeloma‑related bone disease in people with a plasma cell disorder suspected to be myeloma.

Imaging for people with newly diagnosed myeloma

1.3.6 For people with newly diagnosed myeloma or smouldering myeloma who have not had whole‑body imaging with 1 of the following, consider whole‑body imaging to assess for myeloma‑related bone disease and extra‑medullary plasmacytomas with one of:

  • MRI

  • CT

  • fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography CT (FDG PET‑CT).

1.3.7 For guidance on imaging for people with suspected spinal cord compression, see the NICE guideline on metastatic spinal cord compression.

1.3.8 Consider baseline whole‑body imaging with MRI or FDG PET‑CT for people who have non‑secretory myeloma or suspected or confirmed soft tissue plasmacytomas and have not already had either of these tests.

1.4 Service organisation

1.4.1 For guidance on the facilities needed to provide intensive inpatient chemotherapy and transplants for people with myeloma, and the structure and function of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), see the NICE cancer service guidance on improving outcomes in haematological cancers.

1.4.2 For guidance on service organisation for young people see the NICE cancer service guidance on improving outcomes in children and young people with cancer.

1.4.3 Each hospital treating people with myeloma who are not receiving intensive inpatient chemotherapy or a transplant should provide local access to:

  • an MDT specialising in myeloma

  • supportive and palliative care, supported by:

    • psychological support services

    • a 24‑hour acute oncology and/or haematology helpline

    • physiotherapy

    • occupational therapy

    • dietetics

    • medical social services

    • critical care

  • clinical trials via the MDT specialising in myeloma

  • dental services.

1.4.4 Each hospital treating people with myeloma should provide regional access through its network to:

  • facilities for intensive inpatient chemotherapy or transplantation

  • renal support

  • spinal disease management

  • specialised pain management

  • therapeutic apheresis

  • radiotherapy

  • restorative dentistry and oral surgery

  • clinical trials, in particular early phase trials.

1.5 Managing newly diagnosed myeloma

First‑line treatment

NICE has a suite of technology appraisal guidance on myeloma either published or in development. These published technology appraisals cover NICE's position in relation to primary disease treatment, salvage therapy for relapsed myeloma and consolidation/maintenance therapy after primary management. The recommendations in this guideline complement the existing technology appraisals, giving further guidance in addition to the technology appraisals where myeloma‑related subgroups are not included.

1.5.1 Bortezomib is recommended as an option within its marketing authorisation, that is, in combination with dexamethasone, or with dexamethasone and thalidomide, for the induction treatment of adults with previously untreated multiple myeloma, who are eligible for high‑dose chemotherapy with haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. [This recommendation is from Bortezomib for induction therapy in multiple myeloma before high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (NICE technology appraisal guidance 311).]

1.5.2 Thalidomide in combination with an alkylating agent and a corticosteroid is recommended as an option for the first‑line treatment of multiple myeloma in people for whom high‑dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplantation is considered inappropriate. [This recommendation is from Bortezomib and thalidomide for the first-line treatment of multiple myeloma (NICE technology appraisal guidance 228).]

1.5.3 Bortezomib in combination with an alkylating agent and a corticosteroid is recommended as an option for the first‑line treatment of multiple myeloma if:

First autologous stem cell transplantation

1.5.4 Consider using frailty and performance status measures that include comorbidities to assess the suitability of people with myeloma for first autologous stem cell transplant.

1.5.5 Do not use age or the level of renal impairment alone to assess the suitability of people with myeloma for first autologous stem cell transplant.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation

1.5.6 Take into account that only a small number of people with myeloma are suitable for allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

1.5.7 When assessing whether people with myeloma are suitable for an allogeneic stem cell transplant, take into account:

  • whether the person has chemosensitive disease

  • how many previous lines of treatment they have had

  • whether a fully human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched donor is available

  • how graft‑versus‑host disease (GvHD) and other complications may get worse with age

  • the risk of higher transplant‑related mortality and morbidity, versus the potential for long‑term disease‑free survival

  • improving outcomes with other newer treatments

  • the person's understanding of the procedure and its risks and benefits.

1.5.8 Consider allogeneic stem cell transplantation as part of a clinical trial if one is available.

Primary plasma cell leukaemia

1.5.9 Consider bortezomib‑based and/or lenalidomide‑based combination induction chemotherapy for people with primary plasma cell leukaemia.

1.5.10 Consider high‑dose melphalan‑based autologous stem cell transplantation for people with primary plasma cell leukaemia if they are suitable.

1.6 Managing acute renal disease caused by myeloma

1.6.1 Consider immediately starting a bortezomib‑ and dexamethasone‑based combination regimen for people with untreated, newly diagnosed, myeloma‑induced acute renal disease.

1.6.2 If a bortezomib‑based combination regimen is unsuitable for people with untreated, newly diagnosed, myeloma‑induced acute renal disease, consider immediately starting a thalidomide‑ and dexamethasone‑based combination regimen[1].

1.6.3 Do not perform plasma exchange for myeloma‑induced acute renal disease.

1.7 Preventing and managing bone disease

Preventing bone disease

1.7.1 To prevent bone disease, offer people with myeloma:

  • zoledronic acid or

  • disodium pamidronate, if zoledronic acid is contraindicated or not tolerated or

  • sodium clodronate, if zoledronic acid and disodium pamidronate are contraindicated, not tolerated or not suitable.

1.7.2 Consider immediately referring people with myeloma for dental assessment and treatment before starting zoledronic acid or disodium pamidronate.

1.7.3 For people who need urgent myeloma treatment, consider referring for dental assessment and treatment as soon as possible after they start treatment.

Managing non‑spinal bone disease

1.7.4 Offer people with myeloma and non‑spinal bone disease who have not already started bisphosphonates:

  • zoledronic acid or

  • disodium pamidronate, if zoledronic acid is contraindicated or not tolerated or

  • sodium clodronate, if zoledronic acid and disodium pamidronate are contraindicated, not tolerated or not suitable.

1.7.5 Assess the risk of fracture (in line with the NICE guideline on assessing the risk of fragility fractures in osteoporosis) in people with myeloma and non‑spinal bone disease.

1.7.6 Consider surgical stabilisation followed by radiotherapy for non‑spinal bones that have fractured or are at high risk of fractures.

1.7.7 Consider radiotherapy for non‑spinal bones that have fractured or are at high risk of fracture if surgical intervention is unsuitable or not immediately needed.

1.7.8 Consider radiotherapy for people with myeloma and non‑spinal bone disease who need additional pain relief if:

  • chemotherapy and initial pain management has not led to prompt improvement in pain control

  • chemotherapy is unsuitable and current pain medication is not working.

1.7.9 Consider re‑treatment with radiotherapy if pain recurs or if there is regrowth of a previously treated lesion.

1.7.10 Consider seeking advice from or referral to specialists in palliative care or pain medicine for people with complex non‑spinal bone disease.

Managing spinal bone disease

1.7.11 For guidance on treating metastatic spinal cord compression, see the NICE guideline on metastatic spinal cord compression.

1.7.12 Offer all people with myeloma and spinal bone disease:

  • bisphosphonates as follows, if not already started:

    • zoledronic acid or

    • disodium pamidronate, if zoledronic acid is contraindicated or not tolerated or

    • sodium clodronate, if zoledronic acid and disodium pamidronate are contraindicated, not tolerated or unsuitable

  • systemic pain control, when relevant using the NICE guidelines on neuropathic pain and opioids in palliative care.

1.7.13 Consider the following as adjuncts to other treatments for all people with myeloma and spinal bone disease:

  • interventional pain management

  • bracing.

1.7.14 In people with radiological evidence of myeloma‑related spinal instability, consider immediate intervention with:

  • spinal surgery, with or without radiotherapy

  • cement augmentation, with or without radiotherapy

  • radiotherapy alone, if spinal intervention is unsuitable or not currently needed.

1.7.15 In people with radiological evidence of myeloma‑related spinal bone disease without instability, consider:

  • cement augmentation, with or without radiotherapy

  • radiotherapy alone.

1.8 Preventing and managing complications

Preventing infection

1.8.1 Offer people with myeloma the seasonal influenza vaccination.

1.8.2 Consider extending the pneumococcal vaccination to people with myeloma who are under 65.

1.8.3 Consider intravenous immunoglobulin replacement therapy for people who have hypogammaglobulinaemia and recurrent infections.

1.8.4 Consider continuing aciclovir[2] or equivalent antiviral prophylaxis after treatment with bortezomib or other proteasome inhibitors ends.

1.8.5 Consider aciclovir[2] or equivalent antiviral prophylaxis for people who are taking both immunomodulatory drugs and high‑dose steroids.

1.8.6 Consider testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV before starting myeloma treatment.

Managing peripheral neuropathy

1.8.7 For guidance on the pharmacological management of neuropathic pain see the NICE guideline on neuropathic pain in adults.

1.8.8 Explain the symptoms of neuropathy to people with myeloma, and encourage them to tell their clinical team about any new, different or worsening neuropathic symptoms immediately.

1.8.9 If people who are receiving bortezomib develop neuropathic symptoms, consider immediately:

  • switching to subcutaneous injections and/or

  • reducing to weekly doses and/or

  • reducing the dose.

1.8.10 Consider reducing the dose if people are taking a drug other than bortezomib and develop neuropathic symptoms.

1.8.11 Temporarily stop neuropathy‑inducing myeloma treatments if people develop either of the following:

  • grade 2 neuropathy with pain

  • grade 3 or 4 neuropathy.

1.8.12 If neuropathy does not improve despite stopping myeloma treatment and further treatment is needed, consider switching to myeloma treatments less likely to induce neuropathy.

Preventing thrombosis

1.8.13 This recommendation has been replaced by the NICE guideline on venous thromboembolism in over 16s.

1.8.14 This recommendation has been replaced by the NICE guideline on venous thromboembolism in over 16s.

1.8.15 This recommendation has been replaced by the NICE guideline on venous thromboembolism in over 16s.

1.8.16 This recommendation has been replaced by the NICE guideline on venous thromboembolism in over 16s.

1.8.17 This recommendation has been replaced by the NICE guideline on venous thromboembolism in over 16s.

Managing fatigue

1.8.18 If other treatable causes of anaemia have been excluded, consider erythropoietin analogues (adjusted to maintain a steady state of haemoglobin at 110–120 g/litre) to improve fatigue in people with myeloma who have symptomatic anaemia.

1.9 Monitoring

1.9.1 Monitor people with smouldering myeloma every 3 months for the first 5 years, and then decide the frequency of further monitoring based on the long‑term stability of the disease.

1.9.2 Monitor people who have completed myeloma treatment and recovered at least every 3 months. Take into account any risk factors for progression, such as:

  • high‑risk fluorescence in‑situ hybridisation (FISH)

  • impaired renal function

  • disease presentation.

1.9.3 Monitoring for myeloma and smouldering myeloma should include:

  • assessment of symptoms related to myeloma and myeloma treatment and

  • the following laboratory tests:

    • full blood count

    • renal function

    • bone profile

    • serum immunoglobulins and serum protein electrophoresis

    • serum‑free light‑chain assay, if appropriate.

1.9.4 Do not offer people with myeloma or smouldering myeloma routine skeletal surveys for disease monitoring.

1.9.5 Consider symptom‑directed imaging for people with myeloma or smouldering myeloma if any new bone symptoms develop.

1.9.6 For people with myeloma and serological relapse or disease progression, consider one of the following (taking into consideration previous imaging tests):

  • whole‑body MRI

  • spinal MRI

  • fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography CT (FDG PET‑CT).

1.9.7 For people with smouldering myeloma and disease progression, consider one of the following (taking into consideration previous imaging tests):

  • whole‑body MRI

  • whole‑body low‑dose CT

  • whole‑body CT

  • spinal MRI

  • fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography CT (FDG PET‑CT).

1.10 Managing relapsed myeloma

First relapse

NICE has a suite of technology appraisal guidance on myeloma either published or in development. These published technology appraisals cover NICE's position in relation to primary disease treatment, salvage therapy for relapsed myeloma and consolidation/maintenance therapy after primary management. The recommendations in this guideline complement the existing technology appraisals, giving further guidance in addition to the technology appraisals where myeloma‑related subgroups are not included.

1.10.1 Bortezomib monotherapy is recommended as an option for the treatment of progressive multiple myeloma in people who are at first relapse having received 1 prior therapy and who have undergone, or are unsuitable for, bone marrow transplantation, under the following circumstances:

  • the response to bortezomib is measured using serum M protein after a maximum of 4 cycles of treatment, and treatment is continued only in people who have a complete or partial response (that is, reduction in serum M protein of 50% or more or, where serum M protein is not measurable, an appropriate alternative biochemical measure of response), and

  • the manufacturer rebates the full cost of bortezomib for people who, after a maximum of 4 cycles of treatment, have less than a partial response (as defined above). [This recommendation is from Bortezomib monotherapy for relapsed multiple myeloma (NICE technology appraisal guidance 129).]

1.10.2 People currently receiving bortezomib monotherapy who do not meet the criteria in recommendation 1.10.1 should have the option to continue therapy until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop. [This recommendation is from Bortezomib monotherapy for relapsed multiple myeloma (NICE technology appraisal guidance 129).]

Second autologous stem cell transplantation

1.10.3 Offer a second autologous stem cell transplant to people with relapsed myeloma who are suitable and who have:

  • completed re‑induction therapy without disease progression and

  • had a response duration of more than 24 months after their first autologous stem cell transplant.

1.10.4 Consider a second autologous stem cell transplant for people with relapsed myeloma who are suitable and who have:

  • completed reinduction therapy without disease progression and

  • had a response duration of between 12 and 24 months after their first autologous stem cell transplant.

1.10.5 Be aware that people with relapsed myeloma are more likely to be suitable for a second autologous stem cell transplant if they have:

  • had a good response to the first autologous stem cell transplant

  • a lower International Staging System (ISS) stage

  • not had many prior treatments

  • good overall fitness, based on resilience, frailty and performance status

  • no adverse fluorescence in‑situ hybridisation (FISH) results.

Subsequent therapy

1.10.6 Lenalidomide in combination with dexamethasone is recommended, within its licensed indication, as an option for the treatment of multiple myeloma only in people who have received two or more prior therapies, with the following condition:

1.10.7 People currently receiving lenalidomide for the treatment of multiple myeloma, but who have not received 2 or more prior therapies, should have the option to continue therapy until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop. [This recommendation is from Lenalidomide for the treatment of multiple myeloma in people who have received at least one prior therapy (NICE technology appraisal guidance 171).]

1.10.8 Pomalidomide, in combination with dexamethasone, is not recommended within its marketing authorisation for treating relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma in adults who have had at least 2 previous treatments, including lenalidomide and bortezomib, and whose disease has progressed on the last therapy. [This recommendation is from Pomalidomide for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma previously treated with lenalidomide and bortezomib (NICE technology appraisal guidance 338).]

1.10.9 People whose treatment with pomalidomide was started within the NHS before this guidance was published should be able to continue treatment until they and their NHS clinician consider it appropriate to stop. [This recommendation is from Pomalidomide for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma previously treated with lenalidomide and bortezomib (NICE technology appraisal guidance 338).]

Terms used in this guideline

Smouldering myeloma

In this guideline, only recommendations that specifically refer to smouldering myeloma apply to this condition.

To find out what NICE has said on topics related to this guideline, see our web pages on blood and bone marrow cancers, complications of cancer, embolism and thrombosis and end of life care.



[1] At the time of publication (February 2016), thalidomide in combination with dexamethasone did not have a UK marketing authorisation for this indication. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. Informed consent should be obtained and documented. See the General Medical Council's Prescribing guidance: prescribing unlicensed medicines for further information.

[2] At the time of publication (February 2016), aciclovir did not have a UK marketing authorisation for this indication. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. Informed consent should be obtained and documented. See the General Medical Council's Prescribing guidance: prescribing unlicensed medicines for further information.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)