Propensity-score matched analysis of the efficacy of maintenance/continuous therapy in newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma: a multicenter retrospective collaborative study of the Japanese Society of Myeloma

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2022 Jan;148(1):191-203. doi: 10.1007/s00432-021-03668-6. Epub 2021 Jun 2.


Background: Maintenance ± consolidation or continuous therapy is considered a standard of care for both transplant-eligible and -ineligible patients with multiple myeloma (MM). However, long-term benefits of such therapy have not yet been clarified in the context of clinical practice.

Purpose: To clarify the efficacy of maintenance/continuous approach, we retrospectively analyzed the cohort data of newly diagnosed MM patients by propensity-score matching based on age, gender, revised International Staging System (R-ISS) stage, and implementation of transplantation to reduce the bias due to confounding variables.

Findings: Among 720 patients, 161 were identified for each of the maintenance and no maintenance groups. Maintenance/continuous therapy employed immunomodulatory drugs (n = 83), proteasome inhibitors (n = 48), combination of both (n = 29), or dexamethasone alone (n = 1). Progression-free survival (PFS) was significantly prolonged in the maintenance group compared with the no maintenance group (median 37.7 and 21.9 months, p = 0.0002, respectively). Prolongation of PFS was observed in both transplanted and non-transplanted patients (p = 0.017 and p = 0.0008, respectively), with standard risk (p < 0.00001), R-ISS stage I (p = 0.037) and stage II (p = 0.00094), and those without obtaining complete response (p = 0.0018). There was no significant benefit in overall survival (OS), but it tended to be better in the maintenance group in non-transplanted patients. Regarding the treatment pattern, the substitution or addition of drugs different from the induction therapy and the combination with immunomodulatory drugs and proteasome inhibitors appeared to be more beneficial for PFS but not OS.

Conclusion: These results support the benefit of current maintenance/continuous approach in routine clinical practice in the management of MM.

Keywords: Autologous stem cell transplantation; Continuous therapy; Maintenance therapy; Multiple myeloma; Revised international staging system.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Consolidation Chemotherapy / methods*
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Japan
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Myeloma / mortality*
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Propensity Score
  • Proteasome Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Remission Induction / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Immunomodulating Agents
  • Proteasome Inhibitors
  • Dexamethasone