What Is the Prognosis for Multiple Myeloma?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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The prognosis for multiple myeloma can vary according to different factors. At worst, the doctor can deem the disease irreparable and can only give a dim prognosis for survival. If the cancer is caught at an earlier stage, then there is a higher chance of a good prognosis.

Generally, if patients have the early stages of the cancer, chances are that the prognosis for multiple myeloma would involve a possible recovery. This can mean that the cancer cells have not yet spread, or that any plasmacytomas — tumor-like groups of plasma cells — can be easily removed. Chemotherapy and radiation are common choices for treatment, but experimental treatments can also be offered. The prognosis for the earliest stage may be positive, but patients are still given a life expectancy of 62 months on average.

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If the disease is caught in its second stage, the prognosis may still be positive, but the number of cancer cells is rising. The life expectancy will decrease to 45 months, and similar treatments can also be performed. The prognosis for multiple myeloma at its third and final stage can be very discouraging, as the cancer cells have not only added in number, but have also spread to the different organs. In this final stage, many complications can occur, such as the decrease of red blood cells, increase in calcium in the blood, and fatal progression of plasmacytomas in the bones. Aggressive and more experimental treatment may still be done, but the patient may only be given two years or less to live.

Without any treatment, a patient can have a shorter life expectancy of six months. The prognosis for multiple myeloma can also vary if the cancer is active or inactive. An active diagnosis, usually in the first two stages, means that the patient experiences telltale symptoms and should receive treatment as soon as possible. A patient with inactive multiple myeloma does not exhibit any warning signs, and the cancer has a slower growth. In this case, a patient can live up to 10 years, with certain treatments to keep the cancer at bay.

Other factors that influence the prognosis for multiple myeloma include the patient’s health, age, and initial response to the treatment. Presence of specific antibodies may also increase the chances of recover. Any damage, on the other hand, to vital organs such as the kidney and liver may result in a negative prognosis. If the cancer is recurring, the life expectancy also decreases.

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anon924572
Post 5

It was January 2011 when I received my Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis. I have taken part in the Myeloma XI trial and also had a stem cell transplant using my twin brothers clean cells. Right now, I feel perfectly normal but can't get my head around nobody being able to tell me how long I've got. The statistics never sound great so I just carry on as I was before and don't think about it too much!

anon298640
Post 4

My dad is 53 and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma when he was 46. He was diagnosed very late and it has crippled him. He had a stem cell transplant in 2007 which was very successful and had four years treatment free, though it started to come back this year so he tried velcade which didn't work and then was on another oral chemo which I can't spell. Then last month he was incredibly ill with a massive infection.

He was in intensive care with lung, kidney and bone marrow failure and was given a 20 percent chance of survival. He defied everyone and pulled through, but then three days ago was told that his bone marrow has stopped working and there is nothing more they can do for him. He's having dialysis and morphine for pain, and we've been told to take each day as it comes and try and avoid colds. It's late October now, and I'm so worried that he wont make Christmas or see my new baby who is due Feb next year.

There are no answers on here for what I want to know. I don't want him to suffer, but he is suffering every day as he knows he's going to die.

bagley79
Post 2

@honeybees - Yes, it is really tough when someone you are close to is given a prognosis like that.

I lost my mother to this disease over 10 years ago. I know they are making strides in research but haven't heard any recent changes in the multiple myeloma life expectancy prognosis.

When they found this in my mom, she was farther along than the first stage. She was given 24 months to live, but by the grace of God, and her positive attitude, we had her for 3 more years.

Like most types of cancer, multiple myeloma stages are different for everybody and you can't totally rely on what your doctor tells you as far as time frames.

There are always positive surprises along the way and I love to hear success stories from people who have survived diseases like this.

honeybees
Post 1

Receiving a diagnosis of multiple myeloma is devastating no matter which stage it is found in.

One of my friends was diagnosed with this in its early stages and she is only 48 years old. She still has kids at home and this whole process has been hard on their family.

Even though it was caught early and she is going through multiple myeloma treatment, they are giving her a prognosis of 5 years.

That can really make you stop and think. She is really hoping she can make it through until all of her kids have graduated. Some days are better than others, and the last time I talked to her she said she was holding her own.

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