Patients with multiple myeloma have similar survival outcomes whether they are treated with thalidomide or lenalidomide, though the risk of peripheral neuropathy is lower with lenalidomide, according to a study published in the European Journal of Cancer.1

Researchers conducted an observational cohort study of 1264 patients with multiple myeloma who underwent treatment with either lenalidomide or thalidomide. They examined administrative claims data provided by UnitedHealth to compare survival outcomes as well as risk for peripheral neuropathy.

The researchers observed no differences in rates of death between patient groups treated with either thalidomide or lenalidomide. From a total of 406 patients who had undergone treatment with thalidomide, 142 developed peripheral neuropathy with a mean follow-up of 499 person-days.

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Of 858 patients who were treated with lenalidomide, however, 244 developed neuropathy with a mean follow-up of 587 person-days.

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These results correspond to a peripheral neuropathy rate of 35% with thalidomide vs 29% with lenalidomide.

The authors concluded that patients treated with lenalidomide had a lower risk of developing peripheral neuropathy compared to those who were treated with thalidomide. 


  1. Luo J, Gagne JJ, Landon J, Avorn J, Kesselheim AS. Comparative effectiveness and safety of thalidomide and lenalidomide in patients with multiple myeloma in the United States of America: a population-based cohort study. Eur J Cancer. 2016 Nov 17. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.10.018 [Epub ahead of print]