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Jean-Luc Harousseau and Philippe Moreau

In multiple myeloma, autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) has been considered a standard of care in younger patients. The introduction of novel agents (i.e., thalidomide, lenalidomide, and bortezomib) may change this scenario. These agents can be administered before or after ASCT with the goal of increasing the complete remission (CR) rate and prolonging remission. For instance, thalidomide given as maintenance therapy after double ASCT increases CR rate, event-free survival (EFS), and overall survival. Moreover, combinations of conventional chemotherapy with novel agents such as thalidomide or bortezomib yield CR rates and EFS comparable to those achieved with standard single ASCT. Prospective randomized studies are needed to evaluate the impact of novel agents versus or in combination with ASCT. Myeloablative conditioning regimens before allogeneic stem cell transplantation are being replaced with concurrent autologous-transplantation and reduced-intensity conditioning allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Transplant-related mortality associated with this procedure is lower, but more follow-up is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn.