Survival Rates by Stage for Multiple Myeloma

Survival rates tell you what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

What is a 5-year relative survival rate?

relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of multiple myeloma is 60%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 60% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Where do these numbers come from?

The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for multiple myeloma in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by the Revised International Staging System (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3). Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:

  • Localized: Only one tumor (a solitary plasmacytoma) is growing in the bone or outside the bone.

  • Regional: This stage does not apply to myeloma, because this type of cancer does not spread to the lymph nodes. 

  • Distant: Many tumors (plasmacytomas) are found inside or outside the bones, or myeloma is diagnosed.

5-year relative survival rates for multiple myeloma

These numbers are based on people diagnosed with plasmacytomas or multiple myeloma between 2009 and 2015.

SEER Stage

5-year relative survival rate

Localized (solitary plasmacytoma)

74%

Regional

Not applicable

Distant (multiple myeloma)

51%

All SEER stages combined

52%

Understanding the numbers

  • These numbers don’t take everything into account. Survival rates for myeloma are generally based on if a single plasmacytoma is found or if multiple myeloma is diagnosed. But other factors, such as the tumor’s cytogenetics (chromosome changes), the levels of certain proteins and other substances in the blood, your kidney function, your age and overall health, can also affect your outlook.
  • People now being diagnosed with myeloma may have a better outlook than these numbers show. Treatments have improved over time, and these numbers are based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least five years earlier.

*SEER = Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer. gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2019.

References

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer. gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2019.

Last Revised: August 21, 2020

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