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Potential Side Effects from Immunotherapy for Multiple Myeloma

Two of the main immunotherapy drugs used for multiple myeloma are Thalomid (thalidomide) and Revlimid (lenalidomide). Possible side effects of these drugs include:

  • Drowsiness

  • Fatigue

  • Constipation

  • Dizziness

  • Dry skin or rash

  • Low white-blood-cell count, as noted from a blood test

  • Burning, tingling, or decreased sensation in the hands or feet, called peripheral neuropathy

  • Increased risk of blood clots

Most of these side effects can be reversed. Make sure you tell your doctor what you are experiencing. He or she may be able to ease the effects by changing your dose.

Because these drugs can cause severe birth defects or even death to an unborn baby, routine pregnancy testing is done in women who are taking them. Women who take them must also sign a consent form.

If you take these drugs with the chemotherapy drug Decadron (dexamethasone), your doctor will talk with you about a potential serious side effect of the skin called toxic epidermal necrosis (TEN). This looks like a severe burn. The skin turns very red and peels off. Also, make sure you tell your doctor immediately if you have any of these side effects, which could be caused by a blood clot.

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in one leg

  • Increased warmth in one leg

  • Redness in one leg

  • New, sudden cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid breathing