Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
After someone is diagnosed with cancer, doctors will try to figure out if it has spread, and if so, how far. This process is called staging. The stage of a cancer describes how much cancer is in the body. It helps determine how serious the cancer is and how best to treat it. Doctors also use a cancer's stage when talking about survival statistics.
Multiple myeloma is staged using the Revised International Staging System (RISS) based on 4 factors:
RISS Stage Group
Serum beta-2 microglobulin is less than 3.5 (mg/L)
Albumin level is 3.5 (g/dL) or greater
Cytogenetics are considered “not high risk” *
LDH levels are normal
Not stage I or III
Serum beta-2 microglobulin is 5.5 (mg/L) or greater
Cytogenetics are considered “high-risk”*
LDH levels are high
*The bone marrow may be sent for tests to look at the chromosomes in the cancer cells. This test may also be called cytogenetics. Certain chromosome changes can mean a poorer outlook. For example, loss of a piece of chromosome 17 is linked to a poorer outcome. Another genetic abnormality that predicts a poor outcome is an exchange of material from chromosomes 4 and 14. This is called a translocation. A translocation involving chromosomes 14 and 16 is also linked to a poorer outcome. These 3 specific chromosome changes are considered high risk. Other chromosome abnormalities are considered standard risk or not high risk.
Cancer staging can be complex, so ask your doctor to explain it to you in a way you understand.
The blood creatinine level shows how healthy the kidneys are. Kidneys eliminate this chemical from the body. When they are damaged by the monoclonal immunoglobulin, blood creatinine levels rise, predicting a worse outlook.
Age is also important. In the studies of the international staging system, older people with myeloma do not live as long.
Overall health can affect the outlook of someone with myeloma. Poorly controlled health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, for example, can predict a worse prognosis.
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.
American Joint Committee on Cancer. Plasma Cell Myeloma and Plasma Cell Disorders. In: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 8th ed. New York, NY: Springer; 2017:973.
Greipp PR, San Miguel J, Durie BG, et al. International staging system for multiple myeloma. J Clin Oncol. 2005;23(15):3412-3420.
Last Revised: February 28, 2018