, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 175-182

Do new therapeutic approaches (autotransplants, thalidomide, dexamethasone) improve the survival of patients with multiple myeloma followed in a rheumatology department?

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Survival of patients with multiple myeloma (MM) showed no improvement between the 1960s and 1990s. During the last decade, new therapeutic approaches seemed likely to offer hope of prolonging survival. The aim of this study was to examine if this survival increased with the usage of new treatments. The method involves a retrospective study of 123 patients with MM, diagnosed between 1975 and 1999, all receiving treatment. They were divided into two groups: group 1 included 55 patients given the so-called “old treatments” [melphalan-prednisone, cyclophosphamide-prednisone, polychemotherapy (vincristine, melphalan, cyclophosphamide, prednisone (VMCP), VMCP-VBAP)], and group 2 included 68 patients receiving at least one of the so-called “new treatments” (dexamethasone, thalidomide, high-dose chemotherapy followed by autotransplants, bisphosphonates, interferon). The two groups were similar in terms of age, sex ratio and renal impairment, and the percentage of light-chain MM was identical in both groups. Patients who had been given a “new” treatment (group 2) had longer median survival than the patients in group 1 (54 vs 42 months). Independent analysis of each treatment modality showed increased median survival in MM patients treated using autotransplantation compared with untreated patients (125 vs 45 months). Survival was also longer in MM patients treated with thalidomide than in untreated patients (72 vs 42 months). On the other hand, neither bisphosphonates, interferon-alpha nor dexamethasone result in improved survival. Our findings emphasize the increased survival of the MM patients treated with new therapeutic approaches.

Published online: 23 November 2005