Multiple myeloma (MM) is a cancer in the plasma cells. Plasma cells are part of the immune system that produces antibodies to fight off infections. Multiple myeloma affects many organs and systems in the body especially the renal and musculoskeletal system.
In 2016 there were about 138,509 cases of multiple myeloma reported and that comes to about 2.1 persons per 100,000. Globally the incidence of multiple myeloma from 1996 to 2016 has been increased by about 126%. The three world regions where multiple myeloma is commonly seen are Australasia, North America, and Western Europe. Multiple myeloma is the fourteenth leading cause of death due to cancer in the US and there were about 3.3 per 100,000 deaths in men and women from the years 2011 to 2015.
How Long Do You Live After Being Diagnosed With Multiple Myeloma?
Usually, a survival rate is given for a certain period (commonly 5 years). It is given as the 5-year survival rate as a percentage. That means the number of people with cancer and the percentage of people who have survived for 5 years after diagnosed with cancer. If the 5-year survival rate is 80% that means 80 people out of 100 has survived that cancer for 5 years and 80 people are still living after the diagnosis of cancer. Some people might live even 10-15 years after the diagnosis of cancer. However, the survival rate can change due to various factors and it cannot accurately estimate how long a person might live after the diagnosis of cancer.(2)
Factors That Affect The Survival Rate Of Multiple Myeloma
The Myeloma Doctor: As I mentioned-above multiple myeloma is a disease that affects many systems and organs in the body. Therefore, it is best that you see a multiple myeloma specialist who treats multiple myeloma patients 100%. An oncologist or a hematologist can also treat multiple myeloma patients but a multiple myeloma specialist has the knowledge and skills specially to treat multiple myeloma patients. It is important for the doctor to stay up-to-date with the recent developments in the cancer diagnosis and treatment. So, when you choose a doctor chose the doctor wisely. A study done on multiple myeloma patients showed that life expectancy is high in patients treated by a multiple myeloma specialist.
- Myeloma Genetics- There are few myeloma genetic factors with a poor prognosis
- Loss of a piece of chromosome 17
- Exchange of material between chromosomes – an exchange between 14 and 16 chromosomes, exchange between chromosome 4 and 14.
- Immune System Status- A strong immune system increases life expectancy. To boost up the immune system diet, exercises, healthy living style, and treatment are all important.
- Kidney Function– The kidney function is affected in multiple myeloma when it is damaged by immunoglobulins. Normal kidney function people have better prognosis.
- Age- Older people with multiple myeloma have a reduced life expectancy
Survival Rates Of Multiple Myeloma
The following data are retrieved from the American Cancer Society. These are based on 3000 myeloma patients treated from 2005 to 2012 and the approximate median survival rate is generated by the Revised International Staging System.
- 5-year median survival rate according to the stages
- Stage 1 – has not been reached yet
- Stage 2 – 83 months
- Stage 3 – 43 months(1)
The 5-year median survival rate in stage 1 – has not been reached yet, stage 2 – 83 months, and stage 3 – 43 months. These survival rates are according to the American Cancer Society and they specifically say these are estimated figures and this cannot predict what exactly will happen to an individual patient. There are several factors that affect the survival rate which are the knowledge, skills and been up-to-date about the new treatment modalities by the myeloma doctor, myeloma genetics (some chromosomal abnormalities have a poor prognosis), immune system status (low immunity has a poor prognosis), kidney function (normal kidney function good prognosis) and age (elderly patients have a poor prognosis).
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- Is Multiple Myeloma Cancer Curable?
- Does Multiple Myeloma Run In Families?