Myeloma Survival Rate Remains Stagnant For The Second Year And Likely Not To Change In The Next Two Years.

At this time each year the National Cancer Institute(NCI) publishes survival data for many cancers and it was updated on 4/16/2018. Two years ago I wrote a blog post where I had thought survival would go from 5 years to 6 years.   I was wrong, it remains at 5.5 years for the last two years. You can read this post if you CLICK HERE


You can see the actual survival data for myeloma if you CLICK HERE.  Based on this data, it looks as though life expectancy will not reach 6 years for another 2 years.  Why?  I had thought the improvements we had seen historically would continue at the same rate, however improvement has been stagnant. First the NCI data is always 2 years behind and as a result most of the recent new game changing drugs are not in the data (ie. Dara, Elo, and Ninlaro) because they were approved in 2015.  The other less optimistic point is the two year survival rates have not changed in last 5 years, and the 3 year survival has not changed for 4 years.  So what does this mean?

This means 20% of patients do not survive year one and 35% do not live past 3 years.  So the good news is that if you make it to 3 years, each additional year death is less likely. High risk patients have had  an average life expectancy of 2 years.  But at 3 years this would only have an impact of approximately 11.25% or less than 1/3 of the total impact of 35% three year death rate of myeloma patients.  Late diagnosis and other factors represent 1 in 5 patients or 20% die in the first 2 months based on the Myeloma UK data.  A great You Tube video by Myeloma UK is below.   The US rate must be a little bit lower because our one year rate is  between 19 and 20%. 

So we have not seen the result of the new drugs on overall survival, but unless we make inroads into finding myeloma early we will not be able to have any impact on those patients who do not make it past 2 months.  Also we are hoping the newer therapies will help to improve the life expectancy of the high risk patients, but this is still to be determined.   However, I am hopeful we will see advancements in our ability to find myeloma earlier in disease development.  The IMF iStopMM program in Iceland  is looking to test all of the population over 40 years old to find myeloma in the early stages of MGUS or smoldering myeloma.  It has been shown patients live at least twice as long if they are found in stage 1 versus in the more advanced stage 3 diagnosis.  In addition, Dr. Ghorbial of Dana Farber, and Dr. Maria-Victoria Mateos of Salamanca, Spain have shown treatment of patients  before myeloma becomes symptomatic, but in the precursor state of high risk smoldering myeloma results in much longer life expectancy. The current standard of care is to watch and wait until the myeloma becomes active and symptomatic.  

So the sky is the limit if we can just find myeloma in the precursor state, monitor it, and treat it early!  That will be the key to extending life expectancy and potentially cure!  In addition, finding an effective high risk myeloma therapy or cure is the ultimate end game. 

Good luck and may God Bless your Cancer Journey.   For more information on multiple myeloma survival rates and treatments CLICK HERE and you can follow me on twitter at: