Multiple myeloma: 2011 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management

Am J Hematol. 2011 Jan;86(1):57-65. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21913.


Disease overview: Multiple myeloma is malignant plasma-cell disorder that accounts for ∼10% of all hematologic malignancies.

Diagnosis: The diagnosis requires (1) 10% or more clonal plasma cells on bone marrow examination or a biopsy-proven plasmacytoma plus (2) evidence of end-organ damage felt to be related to the underlying plasma cell disorder.

Risk stratification: Patients with 17p deletion, t(4;14), t(14;16), t(14;20), and karyotypic deletion 13 or hypodiploidy are considered to have high-risk myeloma. All others are considered to have standard-risk disease.

Risk-adapted therapy: Standard-risk patients are treated with nonalkylator-based therapy such as lenalidomide plus low-dose dexamethasone (Rd) followed by autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT). If patients are tolerating the induction regimen treatment well, an alternative strategy is to continue initial therapy after stem-cell collection, reserving ASCT for first relapse. High-risk patients are treated with a bortezomib-based induction followed by ASCT and then bortezomib-based maintenance. Patients not eligible for ASCT can be treated with Rd for standard risk disease or a bortezomib-based regimen if high-risk features are present. To reduce toxicity, when using bortezomib, the once-weekly dose is preferred; similarly, when using dexamethasone, the low-dose approach (40 mg once a week) is preferred, unless there is a need for rapid disease control.

Management of refractory disease: Patients with indolent relapse can be treated first with lenalidomide, bortezomib, or alkylators plus low-dose corticosteroids. Patients with more aggressive relapse often require therapy with a combination of multiple active agents. The most promising new agents in development are pomalidomide and carfilizomib.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Myeloma / surgery
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate