Background: The median survival of patients with myeloma after conventional chemotherapy is three years or less. Promising results have been reported with high-dose therapy supported by autologous bone marrow transplantation. We conducted a randomized study comparing conventional chemotherapy and high-dose therapy.
Methods: Two hundred previously untreated patients under the age of 65 years who had myeloma were randomly assigned at the time of diagnosis to receive either conventional chemotherapy or high-dose therapy and autologous bone marrow transplantation.
Results: The response rate among the patients who received high-dose therapy was 81 percent (including complete responses in 22 percent and very good partial responses in 16 percent), whereas it was 57 percent (complete responses in 5 percent and very good partial responses in 9 percent) in the group treated with conventional chemotherapy (P < 0.001). The probability of event-free survival for five years was 28 percent in the high-dose group and 10 percent in the conventional-dose group (P = 0.01); the overall estimated rate of survival for five years was 52 percent in the high-dose group and 12 percent in the conventional-dose group (P = 0.03). Treatment-related mortality was similar in the two groups.
Conclusions: High-dose therapy combined with transplantation improves the response rate, eventfree survival, and overall survival in patients with myeloma.