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What Is Pomalidomide Used For?

Pomalidomide is licensed for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects certain white blood cells. It works by preventing cancer cells from growing and causing them to naturally destroy themselves. Pomalidomide is used in adults only and is reserved for use in people whose cancer has progressed despite treatment with at least two other cancer medications.

An Overview of Uses for Pomalidomide

Pomalidomide (Pomalyst®) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma. It is reserved for use in people who have received at least two other treatments, and whose disease worsened during or within 60 days of their last treatment. The other treatments must have included the medications lenalidomide (Revlimid®) and bortezomib (Velcade®).
 
Multiple myeloma is cancer that begins in plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies. The antibodies work to recognize and attack potentially harmful substances, such as bacteria and viruses. Most plasma cells are found in the bone marrow.
 
Multiple myeloma occurs when plasma cells in the bone marrow become abnormal and grow out of control. The abnormal plasma cells, known as myeloma cells, make a type of antibody called an M protein. M proteins do not function like normal antibodies and cannot fight infections.
 
The abnormal plasma cells form tumors in the bone marrow. These tumors crowd out normal, healthy blood cells, leading to low levels of blood cells in the body. As a result, a person with multiple myeloma may get frequent infections (due to low white blood cells), bleed easily (due to low platelets), and develop anemia (due to low red blood cells).
 
(Click Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma to learn about other symptoms of this type of cancer.)
 
Over time, the plasma cell tumors collect in the solid area of bone. This can weaken the bone, causing it to break. Bone pain is a common symptom of the condition (see Multiple Myeloma Bone Pain).
 
Treatment for multiple myeloma can vary, depending on several factors, including how advanced the cancer is and a person's overall health (see Multiple Myeloma Treatment). People who are not experiencing symptoms may not receive any treatment, but will be closely watched for disease progression. When treatment is used, it generally can include medications, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplant. 
 
Pomalidomide is an immunomodulator, which is a type of medicine that affects how the immune system functions. It can be given alone or in combination with a medicine known as dexamethasone (Decadron®, Dexpak®, Maxidex®). In clinical studies that looked at how well pomalidomide works for treating multiple myeloma, people who took it with dexamethasone were more likely to respond than people who took it alone.
 
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Pomalidomide Drug Information

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