The Wizards of ONC(Oncology), MD Anderson, Pull Back the Curtain –  They Publish “60 Years of Survival Outcomes at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center”

I can not tell you how excited I was when I came across this publication.  MD Anderson has gone through the monumental effort of sorting through mountains of their historic data and obtaining overall survival outcomes for 6 different 10 year periods for 25 different cancers including Multiple Myeloma.   You can see the data for Multiple Myeloma if you CLICK HERE and go to page 264.  


I was hoping that great institutions with remarkable reputations like MD Anderson would provide their clinical staff and the cancer patient population at large with their survival results. Well they have, and it is outstanding that they are one of the first to do so. The one caveat is the myeloma data is published, but the other cancers can only be obtained by buying the book for a hefty price of $90.92.  So I can not talk about anything other than the myeloma rates that were published.  They broke the data into 6 periods of 10 years, the final period being 1995 to 2004.  For Multiple Myeloma, they listed data for newly diagnosed patients who were originally treated at MD Anderson.  The summary data and graph appear below.  

Adjusting the data to reflect the myeloma only survival rate or relative survival, a MD Anderson patient had a 60.1% chance of surviving 5 years vs. the average facility reported by the National Cancer Institute (SEER cancer statistics) of 34.1%.   Therefore. you are at least 1.7 times more likely to survive if you are under the care of the multiple myeloma specialists of MD Anderson.   If only they could have provided the 5 year survival for just 2004, I could have compared their data to the most recent SEER data.  In the period between 2000 and 2004 the SEER data improved by 30%, and if MD Anderson’s 5 year data followed this trend, and they should, they would have some of the best results in the nation.  Under the exceptional leadership of Dr. Robert Orlowski I would expect no less.

So if you have another cancer and can find this book in your library, or find a way to view MD Anderson’s results you can then compare the most recent period to the data provided by SEER for 2000 for 5 year survival.  SEER data is available if you CLICK HERE.  Just remember the MD Anderson data is overall survival and must be adjusted to be comparable to the SEER relative survival data.  The difference between overall survival and relative survival is that relative survival excludes deaths for any other cause, such as car accidents, heart attack, or stroke.   For myeloma the average age of patients is 70, and the adjustment is to add 9.725% to the MD Anderson data.  The younger the average age of the patients for any other cancer the lower the adjustment, and the older the average age the higher the adjustment.  To find the adjustment for other average ages you can compute it from the data provided by the Social Security Life Tables by CLICKING HERE.

Thank you MD Anderson for taking a leadership role in survival rate transparency, now if you could only make it free.  I bet the added patient count would pay for your book!

For more information on multiple myeloma survival rates and life expectancy  go to the web site, or you can follow me on my twitter account at: