Dissecting racial disparities in multiple myeloma

Blood Cancer J. 2020 Feb 17;10(2):19. doi: 10.1038/s41408-020-0284-7.


Multiple myeloma (MM) is a fatal plasma cell dyscrasia with a median overall survival of 5 to 10 years. MM progresses from the more common but often subclinical precursor states of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) to overt MM. There are large racial disparities in all stages of the disease. Compared with Whites, Blacks have an increased MGUS and MM risk and higher mortality rate, and have not experienced the same survival gains over time. The roots of this disparity are likely multifactorial in nature. Comparisons of Black and White MGUS and MM patients suggest that differences in risk factors, biology, and clinical characteristics exist by race or ancestry, which may explain some of the observed disparity in MM. However, poor accrual of Black MGUS and MM patients in clinical and epidemiological studies has limited our understanding of this disparity and hindered its elimination. Disparities in MM survival also exist but appear to stem from inferior treatment utilization and access rather than underlying pathogenesis. Innovative and multidisciplinary approaches are urgently needed to enhance our understanding of disparities that exist at each stage of the MM disease continuum and facilitate their elimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma / ethnology*
  • Multiple Myeloma / therapy*