Multiple myeloma in the older adult: Better prospects, more challenges

Tanya M. Wildes, Ashley Rosko, Sascha A. Tuchman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Purpose: Multiple myeloma (MM) is disproportionately diagnosed in older adults; with the aging of the population, the number of older adults diagnosed with MM will increase by nearly 80% in the next two decades. Duration of survival has improved dramatically over the last 20 years, but the improvements in older adults have not been as great as those in younger adults with MM. Methods: In this article, we address treatment approaches in older adults who are eligible for and those ineligible for high-dose therapy with autologous stem-cell transplantation as well as supportive care considerations and the potential role for geriatric assessment in facilitating decision making for older adults with MM. Results: The evidence from recent studies demonstrates that combinations of novel and conventional antimyeloma agents result in improved response rates and, in some cases, improved progressionfree and overall survival. However, some older adults are particularly vulnerable to toxicities of therapy and discontinuation of therapy and, consequently, they have poorer survival. In addition, older adults may prioritize other outcomes of therapy, such as quality of life, over more conventional end points such as disease response and duration of survival. Geriatric assessment can facilitate risk-stratification of older adults at greater risk for adverse events from therapy and aid in personalizing therapy for vulnerable or frail older adults. Conclusion: Survival in older adults with MM is improving with novel therapeutics, but efficacy must be balanced with risk of toxicity of therapy and maintenance of quality of life. Novel instruments such as geriatric assessment tools may facilitate these aims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2531-2540
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Aug 20 2014


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