IMWG consensus on maintenance therapy in multiple myeloma.
Maintaining results of successful induction therapy is an important goal in multiple myeloma. Here, members of the International Myeloma Working Group review the relevant data. Thalidomide maintenance therapy after autologous stem cell transplantation improved the quality of response and increased progression-free survival (PFS) significantly in all 6 studies and overall survival (OS) in 3 of them. In elderly patients, 2 trials showed a significant prolongation of PFS, but no improvement in OS. A meta-analysis revealed a significant risk reduction for PFS/event-free survival and death. The role of thalidomide maintenance after melphalan, prednisone, and thalidomide is not well established. Two trials with lenalidomide maintenance treatment after autologous stem cell transplantation and one study after conventional melphalan, prednisone, and lenalidomide induction therapy showed a significant risk reduction for PFS and an increase in OS in one of the transplant trials. Maintenance therapy with single-agent bortezomib or in combination with thalidomide or prednisone has been studied. One trial revealed a significantly increased OS with a bortezomib-based induction and bortezomib maintenance therapy compared with conventional induction and thalidomide maintenance treatment. Maintenance treatment can be associated with significant side effects, and none of the drugs evaluated is approved for maintenance therapy. Treatment decisions for individual patients must balance potential benefits and risks carefully, as a widely agreed-on standard is not established.