Rapidly changing myeloma epidemiology in the general population: Increased incidence, older patients, and longer survival

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The incidence of multiple myeloma is characterized by a steep increase with advancing age. Dramatic improvements in survival have been reported in clinical trials; however, elderly patients are generally underrepresented in these. The aims of this study are to review patterns of incidence and survival in multiple myeloma in the general population. We searched PubMed for population-based studies on trends in incidence and survival published between January 1, 2000 and June 30, 2017 and based on regional or national cancer registries and report the following results of the review. The age-adjusted incidence of multiple myeloma has increased during the second half of the twentieth century in some countries but remained stable in areas with high case ascertainment and access to universal medical care. The crude incidence is increasing globally due to an aging population. Survival rates have improved, and 5-year relative survival rates are now around 50% and over 60% in patients 65-70 years or younger. Preliminary data suggest a 3-fold increase in the prevalence of multiple myeloma. We conclude that the number of multiple myeloma patients is increasing in the general population due to (i) aging populations and (ii) more patients living longer due to modern drugs.


  • Ingemar Turesson
  • Magnus Bjorkholm
  • Cecilie Hveding Blimark
  • Sigurdur Kristinsson
  • Ramon Velez
  • Ola Landgren
External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Karolinska University Hospital
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
  • University of Iceland
  • Wake Forest University
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Hematology


  • incidence, multiple myeloma, overall survival, prevalence, trends
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Haematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 1
Publication categoryResearch