How Long Can You Live After a Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis?

Reviewed on 6/11/2021

Multiple myeloma is an uncommon cancer of the blood. The median length of survival after diagnosis with multiple myeloma is 62 months for Stage I, 44 months for Stage II, and 29 months for Stage III. Life expectancy depends on many factors, including the person's age, health, kidney function, and more.
Multiple myeloma is an uncommon cancer of the blood. The median length of survival after diagnosis with multiple myeloma is 62 months for Stage I, 44 months for Stage II, and 29 months for Stage III. Life expectancy depends on many factors, including the person's age, health, kidney function, and more.

Multiple myeloma is an uncommon type of cancer that results from plasma cells in the blood growing abnormally and out of control. 

The median length of survival from the time of diagnosis depends on the stage of the cancer:

  • Stage I: 62 months (5 years, 2 months)
  • Stage II: 44 months (3 years, 8 months)
  • Stage III: 29 months (2 years, 5 months)

Life expectancy for multiple myeloma may also be expressed in five-year survival rates, that is, how many people will be alive five years after diagnosis. 

Multiple myeloma five-year survival rates:

  • Localized (solitary plasmacytoma): 75%
    • About 95% of cases are diagnosed at this stage
  • Regional: Not applicable 
  • Distant (multiple myeloma): 53%

A number of factors affect how long a person can live with multiple myeloma after diagnosis:

  • The patient’s overall health
  • Age: Survival rates are higher in younger people 
  • Chromosome changes of the tumor (cytogenetics)
  • Whether a single plasmacytoma (single tumor) is found or if multiple myeloma is diagnosed
  • Levels of certain proteins and other substances in the blood
  • Kidney function 

How Is Multiple Myeloma Treated?

Treatments for multiple myeloma may be systemic (affecting the entire body) or local (directed at the tumor without affecting the entire body). 

Systemic treatments reach cancer cells throughout the body and may include: 

  • Drug therapy 
    • It is generally preferable to use at least two or three different kinds of drugs in combination because the cancer responds better
    • Proteasome inhibitors 
    • Immunomodulating agents 
    • Steroids
    • Chemotherapy
    • Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors 
    • Monoclonal antibodies 
    • Antibody-drug conjugates 
    • Nuclear export inhibitor 
    • Bisphosphonates for bone disease
    • CAR T-cell therapy (a type of immunotherapy)
  • Stem cell transplant 
  • Supportive treatments 
    • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to help with immunity
    • Treatment for low blood cell counts
    • Plasmapheresis to remove myeloma protein from the blood

Local treatments are often used to treat earlier stage cancer, and may include: 

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Reviewed on 6/11/2021
References
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma.html

https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/multiple-myeloma/statistics

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15809451/