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Survival statistics for multiple myeloma
Survival statistics for multiple myeloma are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they can’t be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.
There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for multiple myeloma and what they mean.
Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.
In Canada, the 5-year net survival for multiple myeloma is 42%. This means that, on average, about 42% of people diagnosed with multiple myeloma will survive for at least 5 years.
Survival by stage
Survival varies with each stage of multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma often responds to treatment in the beginning, but in most cases the disease comes back (relapses, or recurs). There are many available treatments for multiple myeloma, so when a treatment stops working doctors will try another one. Because multiple myeloma tends to recur with any treatment, it is not considered curable.
Survival statistics by stage of multiple myeloma are reported as median survival. Median survival is the length of time that half of the people with multiple myeloma are still alive after being diagnosed or starting treatment.
There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of multiple myeloma. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.
|International Staging System (ISS) stage||Median survival|
62 months (about 5 years)
44 months (about 3 and a half years)
29 months (about 2 and a half years)
Other prognostic factors are also used to predict a person’s survival, which can range from less than 1 year to more than 10 years.
The following factors can also affect survival for multiple myeloma.
- Generally, the earlier multiple myeloma is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
- The number and type of chromosome changes help the doctor make a prognosis.
- People whose cancer responds well to treatment and goes into complete remission have a better prognosis than people whose cancer does not respond to the initial treatment.
Multiple myeloma survival rates have improved greatly over the last 20 years. This is because doctors have found better ways to test for multiple myeloma so the disease can be diagnosed at an earlier stage. Also, many new and better treatments are now available and have helped to improve survival in people with multiple myeloma.
Questions about survival
Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:
- your health history
- the type of cancer
- the stage
- certain characteristics of the cancer
- the treatments chosen
- how the cancer responds to treatment
Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
We realize that our efforts cannot even be compared to what women face when they hear the words ... ‘you have cancer.’
Support from someone who has ‘been there’
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.