New Model Predicts Multiple Myeloma Survival Rates Will Significantly Improve in the Era of Modern Therapy

The unprecedented number of new drug approvals in multiple myeloma will lead to an increase in the number of patients living longer with myeloma, according to an analysis by Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD, and colleagues from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, that was presented at the AACR Annual Meeting.

Multiple myeloma is the second most common hematologic malignancy in the United States, representing 1.4 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers and, as the U.S. population continues to age, that number is expected to increase, the study authors explained. With the introduction of new therapies, including ixazomib, elotuzumab, and daratumumab, Dr. Rosenberg and researchers expect that future numbers of myeloma survivors will increase, as well.

Using a proportional hazards absolute risk model and age-, period-, and cohort-forecasting models derived from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data between 1992 to 2010, the researchers estimated future myeloma incidence and survival rates among black and white men and women through the year 2022. “We calculated corresponding numbers of myeloma survivors in the United States by multiplying prevalence rates by official observed and projected population counts,” the authors explained, and life-year gains among myeloma patients were calculated from these prevalence forecasts.

Between 1992 and 2010, survival after a myeloma diagnosis improved among all patient groups; for example, among white men 60 to 69 years old, median survival increased from 2.6 to 5.0 years. The researchers hypothesized that if progress continues at the same rate – which they consider a conservative assumption due to the recent advances in myeloma therapies – the projected median survival will increase to 7.6 years by 2022.

While the authors predict that the number of new myeloma cases among men and women ages 40 to 79 years will increase by 28 percent (from 16,000-21,000) by 2022, primarily due to population growth, they also expect the number of patients living with myeloma to increase by 55 percent (from 76,000-119,000), due to improvements in prognosis.
The cumulative life-year gain between 2011 and 2022, therefore, is expected to reach approximately 50,000 life-years.

“The number of patients living with MM is expected to increase faster than the corresponding number of new cases,” Dr. Rosenberg and colleagues concluded. “Driven by access to modern therapies with unprecedented efficacy, overall survival for patients with myeloma will continue to improve significantly.”

If these predictions about future incidence and prevalence rates prove correct, improved supportive care, reinforced health maintenance, and attention to the financial impact of increased diagnoses and survival in this patient population will need to be addressed, as well.


Rosenberg PH, Best A, Anderson WF, et al. Multiple myeloma will become a common cancer in the era of modern therapy. Abstract 5231. Presented at the AACR Annual Meeting, April 20, 2016; New Orleans, LA.