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Is Velcade a type of chemotherapy?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 3, 2021.

Official answer


Velcade is not a traditional form of chemotherapy (chemo). Velcade is a targeted drug therapy in the class of drugs known as proteasome inhibitors. Velcade is an injection often used as a first-line treatment of patients with multiple myeloma.

Targeted drug therapies work by blocking specific pathways that allow the cancer to grow uncontrolled. Because these drugs are "targeted", they may be linked with fewer, less severe or different side effects compared to traditional chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy works by killing rapidly growing cancer cells, but also can affect normal cells in the body. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles, with rest periods, over several months.

Review more: Velcade side effects

How does Velcade work?

Velcade (bortezomib) is an injected medicine given to adults to treat multiple myeloma (a cancer of plasma cells) or mantle cell lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes). It interferes with cancer cell growth and helps to keep it from spreading. It is given into your vein (intravenous) or as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. It is given with other medicines during your treatment cycles.

  • Velcade targets, blocks and slows down the action of proteasomes found inside cells. Proteasomes are protein complexes that break down unneeded or damaged proteins in cells, and some cancer cells are dependent on the proteasome to survive.
  • When Velcade blocks (targets) the proteasome, the cancer cell is unable to break down the unneeded proteins, which leads to cancer cell death.
  • Proteasome inhibitors have become an important class of medication for treatment of some types of cancer.

This is not all the information you need to know about Velcade (bortezomib) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Velcade information here, and discuss this medicine and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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