Multiple myeloma: 2020 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification and management

Am J Hematol. 2020 May;95(5):548-567. doi: 10.1002/ajh.25791.


Disease overview: Multiple myeloma accounts for approximately 10% of hematologic malignancies.

Diagnosis: The diagnosis requires ≥10% clonal bone marrow plasma cells or a biopsy proven plasmacytoma plus evidence of one or more multiple myeloma defining events (MDE) namely CRAB (hypercalcemia, renal failure, anemia, or lytic bone lesions) features felt related to the plasma cell disorder, bone marrow clonal plasmacytosis ≥60%, serum involved/uninvolved free light chain (FLC) ratio ≥100 (provided involved FLC is ≥100 mg/L), or >1 focal lesion on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Risk stratification: The presence of del(17p), t(4;14), t(14;16), t(14;20), gain 1q, or p53 mutation is considered high-risk multiple myeloma. Presence of any two high risk factors is considered double-hit myeloma; three or more high risk factors is triple-hit myeloma.

Risk-adapted initial therapy: In transplant eligible patients, induction therapy consists of bortezomib, lenalidomide, dexamethasone (VRd) given for approximately 3-4 cycles followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). In high-risk patients, daratumumab, bortezomib, lenalidomide, dexamethasone (Dara-VRd) is an alternative to VRd. Selected standard risk patients can get additional cycles of induction, and delay transplant until first relapse. Patients not candidates for transplant are typically treated with VRd for approximately 8-12 cycles followed by lenalidomide; alternatively these patients can be treated with daratumumab, lenalidomide, dexamethasone (DRd).

Maintenance therapy: After ASCT, standard risk patients need lenalidomide maintenance, while bortezomib-based maintenance is needed for patients with high-risk myeloma.

Management of refractory disease: Most patients require a triplet regimen at relapse, with the choice of regimen varying with each successive relapse.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors