Understanding VELCADE Injection Treatment

VELCADE is a prescription medicine used to treat certain cancers like multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. It contains the active drug bortezomib which works by interfering with cancer cell growth.

This article explains what patients should know about VELCADE in simpler terms including:

  • What it treats
  • How it’s given
  • Dosing guidelines
  • Side effect risks and safety issues
  • Proper storage

Ask your cancer care team any other questions you may have about this medication.

What Medical Conditions is VELCADE Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves using VELCADE injections to:

Treat multiple myeloma

  • In combination with other drugs after at least one prior therapy
  • For previously untreated cases in patients unsuitable for stem cell transplants

Treat mantle cell lymphoma

  • For patients who have not received prior treatment and are ineligible for stem cell transplants

Multiple myeloma involves cancerous plasma cells accumulating in bone marrow.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a type of blood cancer originating from the lymph nodes.

VELCADE works by interfering with proteasomes that cancer cells need to grow and spread.

How is VELCADE Administration Given?

VELCADE is given by injection under the skin (subcutaneously) or into a vein (intravenously) by a healthcare professional familiar with administering cancer drugs.

It comes as a powder that must be mixed with liquid to dissolve it before dosing. This mixing is done by your healthcare team.

VELCADE can NOT be given by any other incorrect routes like into the spine fluid. Doing so could be fatal.

What is the Standard VELCADE Dosing Schedule?

Your exact VELCADE dosing schedule will be tailored by your cancer doctor based on:

  • Cancer type being treated
  • Treatment combination with other drugs
  • Height and weight
  • Blood counts and organ function lab results

So dosing may differ between patients. Carefully follow instructions provided by your provider.

However, standard starting doses are:

  • 1.3 milligrams (mg) of VELCADE powder per one square meter of body surface area
  • Given twice weekly as an injection

For multiple myeloma, a full cycle or “round” involves getting doses twice weekly for 3 weeks followed by a rest week. This 4 week schedule may repeat for up to 8 cycles over 6 months.

For mantle cell lymphoma, dosing schedule specifics depend on VELCADE drug combinations which last 2-6 months total.

If side effects become an issue, your medical team may adjust the dose, treatment duration or schedule.

What Are Common VELCADE Side Effects?

As with chemotherapy drugs, VELCADE can cause adverse reactions. Most are manageable with care or dose limits.

More common side effects affecting over 10% of patients include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue, weakness or dizziness
  • Peripheral neuropathy – nerve pain or numbness
  • Fever or flu-like illness
  • Stomach pain, heartburn or appetite loss
  • Headache, back pain or bone pain
  • Skin problems like rash or itching

Less common but serious risks requiring prompt medical care:

  • Blood clots – swelling, pain, warmth in limbs
  • Severe breathing issues, chest pain
  • Bleeding problems – easy bruising/bleeding

Rare risks needing emergency treatment:

  • Heart attack, heart failure or fluid in lungs
  • Liver damage or bleeding stomach ulcers
  • Kidney injury from waste buildup

Discuss any concerns about side effects with your cancer care team, including options for symptom relief. Some effects lessen over time.

Who Should NOT Use VELCADE Injections?

You should NOT receive VELCADE injections if:

  • You had prior severe allergic reactions to bortezomib or the mannitol/nitrogen content
  • You have certain severe heart, lung, liver or kidney dysfunctions
  • You are also taking certain medications that interact with VELCADE

Inform all doctors about your full medical history and any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take to ensure VELCADE is appropriate for you.

Are There Risks With VELCADE During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding?

VELCADE’s effects during human pregnancy are unknown but likely harmful. It should NOT be used when pregnant or breastfeeding.

Both men and women must prevent pregnancy with reliable birth control while getting VELCADE and for 3 months after stopping. Let your doctor know right away if you become pregnant.

How Should VELCADE Injections Be Stored Properly?

To keep VELCADE sterile and potent until its expiration date:

  • Refrigerate unopened packages between 36-46°F
  • Do NOT freeze it or leave near freezing temperatures
  • Protect boxes from light exposure
  • After mixing, use injected doses right away or within 8 hours
  • Safely dispose of used needles/vials per biohazard guidelines

Carefully check expiration dates to ensure VELCADE injections remain effective at the time of administration. Properly stored, it retains stability until the imprinted manufacturer date.

Who Produces and Distributes VELCADE?

VELCADE powder injection is manufactured and distributed by:

Janssen Cilag International
Beerse, Belgium

Discuss any other questions about this medication with the doctor, nurse or pharmacist providing your cancer care. Clarify the schedule for receiving doses, what to monitor for side effects, and if any precautions are needed when using VELCADE treatment.