Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. Dexamethasone works by mimicking the effect of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands (which are located on top of the kidneys) that controls metabolism and stress.
In multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia, dexamethasone and the other steroids are helpful because they can stop white blood cells from traveling to areas where cancerous myeloma cells are causing damage. This decreases the amount of swelling or inflammation in those areas and relieves associated pain and pressure. More importantly, in high doses, dexamethasone can kill malignant cells. When combined with other myeloma drugs, it can increase the response to the treatment.
Dexamethasone can be administered in different forms.
The amount of dexamethasone provided will depend on many factors, including your general health or other health problems, and the reason you are receiving this drug. Your doctor will determine your dosage and schedule.
Dexamethasone should not suddenly be stopped if it has been used long-term. Reduce dosage gradually over several weeks or months to allow the adrenal glands to return to their normal secretion patterns. Too rapid a withdrawal of dexamethasone may cause symptoms such as bone and muscle pain, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Dexamethasone is currently approved for: