COVID-19 FAQ #31: When can myeloma patients restart therapy after recovering from COVID-19?
How Soon Should Myeloma Patients Restart Therapy Post COVID-19?
Continuing his COVID-19 FAQ, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie advises when patients should restart their myeloma treatment after recovering from the COVID-19 virus.
The BOTTOM LINE:
If possible, delay restarting myeloma-treatment for 30-90 days. It is advised to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before restarting treatment. Discuss your treatment timeline carefully with your doctor.
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This week's "Ask Dr. Durie" comes from a patient who has recovered from a COVID-19 infection and is doing quite well in the recovery phase. The question is: Is it okay to restart myeloma-therapy when you have fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection?
The good news is that we are seeing more and more myeloma patients who've recovered nicely from COVID-19 infections, particularly with the use of the monoclonal antibody therapy which has been very helpful for several patients.
What about the idea of restarting therapy? Well, I think it's something that we don't know the full answer to. My suggestion is to defer restarting therapy for at least a month or two until you see that the recovery is progressing well.
The other thing to be aware of is that before therapy is restarted, this could be an ideal opportunity to take the COVID-19 vaccination. It has been noted recently that long haulers, patients who have continued to have some symptoms from the COVID-19 infection for weeks to months, can benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.
In a recent study, around 40-percent of such long-hauler patients had full reversal of their symptoms with the vaccination, which seems to boost the antibody levels against COVID-19 such that the infection is cleared from your system. So, something to consider before restarting therapy.
But in that two to three months' time frame, I think it's reasonable to consider restarting therapy after the vaccination. Talk to your doctor because, depending on the situation, it may be that it's urgent to get started right back on therapy even sooner to make sure that the myeloma does not relapse.
In this case, the selection of the treatment, the timing of the treatment, and these various very personal decisions, need to be discussed carefully with your doctor, and set up a plan for monitoring and retreatment when the time is best in your case.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.