A new staging system for multiple myeloma patients based on the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) experience

Br J Haematol. 2003 Aug;122(3):441-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.2003.04456.x.


We aimed to develop and evaluate a staging system for multiple myeloma (MM) based on easily obtained laboratory measures. The Durie-Salmon stage is most commonly used and is an effective system of patient stratification for clinical trial research. However, the criteria are complex and many laboratory parameters are required to properly stage patients. In this analysis, we focused on two common measures with prognostic importance in MM: serum beta2 microglobulin (beta2m) and serum albumin. Pre-study data on 1555 previously untreated MM patients enrolled on four recent South-west Oncology Group (SWOG) phase III trials were used in the analysis. Staging models were developed and validated using regression tree methods for survival outcomes. SWOG stages were defined as: stage 1, beta2m < 2.5 mg/l (14% of patients, median overall survival of 55 months); stage 2, 2.5 </= beta2m < 5.5 (43% of patients, median overall survival of 40 months); stage 3, beta2m >/= 5.5 and albumin >/= 30 g/l (32% of patients, median overall survival of 24 months); and stage 4, beta2m >/= 5.5 and albumin < 30 g/l (11% of patients and median overall survival of 16 months). This staging scheme was also predictive of event-free survival, first-year mortality and long-term (>/= 5 years) event-free survival. We conclude that although the SWOG stage does not represent a new prognostic marker for MM (cytogenetics, FISH), it could provide a simple alternative to the Durie-Salmon stage for patients with previously untreated MM. Additional evaluation in other MM patient populations is needed to confirm results.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium / blood
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / blood
  • Multiple Myeloma / mortality
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Platelet Count
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Survival Rate
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / analysis


  • Serum Albumin
  • beta 2-Microglobulin
  • Calcium