Some patients with primary amyloidosis respond to chemotherapy focused on the abnormal plasma cells. A stem cell transplant may be done, as in multiple myeloma.
In secondary amyloidosis, aggressively treating the disease that is causing the excess amyloid protein can improve symptoms and/or slow the disease from getting worse. Complications such as heart failure, kidney failure, and other problems can sometimes be treated, when needed.
How severe the disease is depends on the organs that are affected. When the heart and kidney are involved, it may lead to organ failure and death. Body-wide ( systemic) involvement can lead to death in 1 to 3 years.
You know you have primary amyloidosis and you have difficulty breathing, persistent swelling of the ankles or other areas, decreased urine output, or other symptoms that may indicate complications have developed
There is no known prevention for primary amyloidosis.
Buxbaum JN. The Amyloidoses. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2004.
Gertz MA, Lacy MQ, Dispenzieri A, Hayman SR. Immunoglobulin light-chain amyloidosis (primary amyloidosis). In: Hoffman R, Benz Jr. EJ, Shattil SJ, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philladelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingston; 2008:chap 89.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.