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Cancer Snapshots: Disease Focused and Other Snapshots

  • Posted: 12/02/2013

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A Snapshot of Myeloma

Incidence and Mortality

Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma or plasma cell myeloma, is the second most common blood cancer in the United States and constitutes approximately 1 percent of all cancers. Since 1975, overall myeloma incidence has increased nearly 1 percent annually. However, overall mortality rates have declined since 1994.

Men have a higher incidence of myeloma than women. In addition, African Americans have approximately twice the incidence and mortality rates of whites.

It is estimated that more than 22,000 individuals will be diagnosed with myeloma in the United States in 2013, and more than 10,000 will die as a result of the disease.

Risk factors for myeloma include being over 65 years of age, having a family history of myeloma, and having a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. There is no standard or routine screening test for myeloma. Standard treatments for myeloma include chemotherapy, corticosteroid therapy, treatment with angiogenesis inhibitors, targeted therapy, stem cell transplant, biological therapy, radiation therapy, and supportive care.

Line graph showing U.S. Myeloma Incidence per 100,000, by race and gender, between 1990-2010.  In 2010, African America males have the highest incidence, followed by African American females, white males, and white females.  In 2010, African American males have the highest mortality, followed by African American females, white males, and white females.

Examples of NCI Activities Relevant to Myeloma

Selected Advances in Myeloma Research

Pie chart of NCI Myeloma Research Portfolio.  Percentage of total dollars by scientific area.  Fiscal year 2012.  Biology, 20%.  Etiology/causes of cancer, 8%.  Prevention, 1%.  Early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis, 6%.  Treatment, 50%.  Cancer control, survivorship, and outcomes research, 10%.  Scientific model systems, 5%.
  • Results of a phase III clinical trial showed that treating patients with a combination of thalidomide and zoledronic acid delayed progression from asymptomatic multiple myeloma to active multiple myeloma longer than treatment with zoledronic acid alone. Published August 2012. [PubMed Abstract]
  • Overexpression of the histone methylase protein MMSET stimulates myeloma cell proliferation through microRNA-mediated modulation of the oncoprotein c-MYC. Published September 2012. [PubMed Abstract]
  • Myeloma patients who received parenteral nutrition (PN) during treatment with autologous stem cell transplantation (auto-SCT) had a higher rate of hyperglycemia and neutropenic fever and longer hospital stays than those who did not receive PN, suggesting that there may be no clinical benefits to PN administration in myeloma patients undergoing auto-SCT. Published February 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
  • Research in mice has shown that myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) suppress immune response to multiple myeloma cells and thereby play a critical role in disease progression, suggesting MDSC as a possible therapeutic target. Published March 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
  • See this PubMed list of selected free full-text journal articles on NCI-supported research relevant to myeloma. You can also search PubMed for additional scientific articles or to complete a search tutorial.

Trends in NCI Funding for Myeloma Research

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) investment1 in myeloma research increased from $41.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to $61.3 million in FY 2012. In addition to this funding, NCI supported $5.6 million in myeloma research in FY 2009 and FY 2010 using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).2

Bar graph depicting NCI Myeloma Research Investment between 2008-2012: Fiscal year 2008 $41.5 million Myeloma Funding of $4.83 billion Total NCI Budget. Fiscal Year 2009, $45.2 million Myeloma Funding of $4.97 billion Total NCI Budget. Fiscal Year 2010, $48.5 million Myeloma Funding of $5.10 billion Total NCI Budget. Fiscal year 2011, $54.9 million Myeloma Funding of $5.06 billion Total NCI Budget. Fiscal year 2012, $61.3 million Myeloma Funding of $5.07 billion Total NCI Budget.

Additional Resources for Myeloma


  • 1 The estimated NCI investment is based on funding associated with a broad range of peer-reviewed scientific activities. For additional information on research planning and budgeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), see About NIH.
  • 2 For more information regarding ARRA funding at NCI, see Recovery Act Funding at NCI.