Myeloma Life Expectancy – The Good News And The NEW PROJECTION!

In April the National Cancer Institute Published the SEER Cancer Statistics, and it showed myeloma life expectancy had improved from 5.5 years to 6 years.  For a the last few years I have been projecting the change in myeloma life expectancy.  The SEER data for myeloma patients can be found if you CLICK HERE.  My estimate for last few years have been spot on.  If you want to look at the history of these projections you can CLICK1, and CLICK2.

Below is a look at the history of the survival for myeloma in the USA and my prediction for the next 1 year improvement. 

year                                  survival milestones        years between milestones

1975                          2 years                               –

1998                          3 years                             23

2004                          4 years                               6

2008                          5 years                               4

2010                          6 years                               2

2014(projection)        7 years                               4

The rate of change for myeloma improvement looks to have once again plateaued for a few years.  The 5 year survival has remained nearly the same for the last 4 years which does not bode well for a big move upward during those years.  To really impact survival we must slow the high death rate in the first three years after diagnosis.  With early testing with the Promise Study, the work with iStopMM, and early treatment for high risk smoldering myeloma  slowing early death may be achievable. 

Another part of this is because a number of new drugs were approved in 2015, and the improvement for these drugs will not be represented in most of the current data published by the National Cancer Institute.  But still if 35% of patients die in the first 3 years there is just 15% more to die to be at the median.  Early detection is the key to significant improvements becoming a reality. 

It is still a mystery to me why all the data provided by myeloma specialists show a 3 year survival in the 85 to 95% range and the SEER data for 3 years is just 65 to 66%.  Which would mean you are 3.5 times more likely to die at the average SEER facility vs. at one of the centers with a myeloma specialist. 

In addition, the likelihood of any improvement next year will be limited by a small backwards move in the 5 year survival as noted int the following graph.

Good luck and God Bless your Cancer Journey/
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