Multiple Myeloma Life Expectancy

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that is related to leukemia and lymphoma. In multiple myeloma, the plasma cell which is type of white blood cell ends up producing excessive amounts of immunoglobulin protein which then deposit into bones and other body parts. Such abnormal protein outnumbers the healthy cells in the body and cause organ damage.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

The early stages of multiple myeloma do not elicit any symptoms. The advanced stages may show following signs

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  • Increased collection of plasma cells may result in purple colored lumps that can be seen beneath the skin
  • Bone pain
  • Loss in weight
  • Fatigue and general weakness

Causes of  Multiple Myeloma

  • The causes of multiple myeloma are not known.
  • Certain risk factors can increase the vulnerability to developing the condition. They include presence of certain diseases such as solitary plasmacytoma and MGUS; a family history of multiple myeloma; being African-American and an increased age of above 65 years

Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

There is no cure for multiple myeloma. The below mentioned treatment methods can alleviate the symptoms.

  • Chemotherapy is used to intravenously administer special drugs that destroy the cancer cells
  • Stem cell transplant is used to replace the diseased cells with health cells. The procedure involves the use of high dose chemotherapy to destroy all the cancerous and healthy cells in the bone marrow. They are then replaced by the healthy cells
  • Radiation therapy can be used to direct precision rays of extreme radiation at the cancer cells to kill them

Multiple myeloma survival rate

The survival rate for multiple myeloma refers to the percentage of individuals who are affected by a particular stage and type of the condition and who live for a particular number of years after diagnosis. Most cases follow the five year survival rate which indicates the percentage of people who have survived for at least a period of five years after diagnosis. In such people the disease may be cured, or the patients may be undergoing treatment or they may show only certain symptoms.

One cannot generalize the data of five year survival rate for patients of multiple myeloma and doctors only tend to use it as a rough estimate of survival. This is because each individual case of the condition is unique and survival rate is dependent on a number of factors such as:

  • The presence of certain antibody
  • If the cancer responds to treatment or if it reoccurs
  • The stage of the disease
  • Any damage to the kidney
  • The overall health and age of the patient

There are many ways to compute the survival rate for multiple myeloma. One of the best ways is the five year relative survival rate. This is a comparison of the five year survival rate of multiple myeloma patients to the general population which is free of the disease and is of similar age, etc.

  • As of the time period 1995 to 2001, the overall five year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma was around 32.4 %

As per race and sex, the five year relative survival rate was:

  • 35.8 % for Caucasian men
  • 36.3 % for African American men
  • 28.1 % for Caucasian women
  • 30.5 % for African American women
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