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.
Examples of NCI Activities Relevant to Myeloma
- A myeloma study is under way as part of the Patterns of Care/Quality of Care (POC/QOC) Studies, an initiative aimed at evaluating and improving the dissemination of recommended cancer treatments into community practice.
- The Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium (MMHCC) has developed several mouse models of blood cancer that are available to the research community, including a mouse that may be useful in testing strategies to inhibit BCL2, a protein that is often overexpressed in myeloma.
- The Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network conducts large multi-institutional clinical trials that address important issues in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to establish optimal treatment strategies.
- NCI funds Supportive and Palliative Care Clinical Trials that explore ways to manage the physical, psychological, and emotional side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, including those experienced by patients undergoing treatment for myeloma.
- In NCI's Natural History Study of Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) and Smoldering Myeloma (SMM), researchers will follow patients who have conditions that can progress to multiple myeloma to characterize the clinical course of these conditions and to identify risk factors for progression to full-blown multiple myeloma.
- Two myeloma-specific Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) are working to move results from the laboratory to the clinical setting. The SPOREs are trying to identify the genes involved in myeloma and to develop novel targeted therapies to treat this disease.
Selected Advances in Myeloma Research
- 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
Additional Resources for Myeloma
- What You Need To Know About™ Multiple Myeloma
Describes possible risks, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for someone recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
- NCI Multiple Myeloma/Other Plasma Cell Neoplasms Home Page
Information about multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms: treatment, clinical trials, research, and statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
- Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma) Treatment (PDQ®)
Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of plasma cell neoplasms (including multiple myeloma).
- Clinical Trials for Multiple Myeloma and Other Plasma Cell Neoplasms
- 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.