Two-thirds of patients with multiple myeloma are aged 65 years or more and the prevalence of multiple myeloma in elderly patients is expected to rise in the next future. Patients older than 65 years are usually considered ineligible for transplantation. The introduction of novel agents, such as the immunomodulatory drugs thalidomide and lenalidomide and the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, combined with conventional chemotherapy, has radically changed the treatment paradigm of elderly patients and improved outcome. A sequential approach, consisting of an induction regimen associated with a high rate of complete response, followed by consolidation/maintenance therapy, induces a profound cytoreduction and delays relapse, thus improving survival. Novel agents associated with reduced-intensity autologous transplant showed to be safe and effective in fit elderly patients. Patients older than 75 years or vulnerable ones are more susceptible to adverse events that negatively affect treatment adherence and outcome. In this setting, less toxic regimens and appropriate dose reductions should be adopted. Here we provide an overview of novel agent-based treatment strategies for elderly patients with multiple myeloma.
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