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Driving innovation to target a better future for multiple myeloma patients

Driving innovation to target a better future for multiple myeloma patients

We’ve seen tremendous evolution in multiple myeloma treatment, yet a range of unmet needs persist, especially among underserved communities.

Learn more about multiple myeloma and advances in treatment options

How Does Multiple Myeloma Work?
History of Multiple Myeloma

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a disease that arises from the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of plasma cells in the bone marrow.i
It is the third most common form of blood cancer.ii

Healthy plasma cells, a type of white blood cell, come from the bone marrow and play a vital role in the immune system by producing antibodies that help the body attack and kill germs. However, with multiple myeloma, the plasma cells become cancerous and accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out healthy blood cells. The cancerous cells then produce an abnormal antibody called M protein, which can cause damage to the body.iii

After initial treatment, the disease often changes and comes back (called relapse) or does not respond to medication (called refractory). Therefore, continued research into new therapies is needed.iv

Signs & symptoms

Signs & symptoms

Although some affected with multiple myeloma will not exhibit any signs of the disease (asymptomatic),
common symptoms include: i, iii

  • 1

    Breakdown of the bone resulting in high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia), which causes dehydration, excessive thirst, nausea, constipation, and confusion

  • 2

    Poor kidney function

  • 3

    Weakened bones making patients more susceptible to fracture

  • 4

    Anaemia that may result in weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath

  • 5


  • 6

    Weakened immune system causing more infections such as pneumonia

Patients & prevalence

  • 3rd

    most common
    blood cancer

    Multiple myeloma is the third most common form of blood cancer worldwide ii

  • Men

    slightly more
    common in men

    Multiple myeloma is slightly more common in menv

  • 66-70

    years old

    The risk of developing multiple myeloma increases as one ages. The average age range at diagnosis is 66-70 yearsvi

  • ~58%

    survival rate

    The 5-year survival rate for multiple myeloma patients is about 58% in the USvii

  • >126%


    Incident cases from 1990 to 2016 increased by 126% globallyviii

  • 176,404

    new cases
    worldwide in 2020

    176,404 new cases of multiple myeloma were diagnosed worldwide in 2020ix


Several exams and tests may be used to help diagnose multiple myeloma.iii


    Specialised blood tests


    Bone marrow examination


    X-rays and other imaging tests


Over the course of their disease, patients may be treated with one or more of these therapies:i


    Targeted therapy


    Biological therapy


    Stem cell transplant


    Corticosteroid medication




    Radiation therapy



Continued research into new therapies is needed as multiple myeloma commonly becomes refractory to available treatments.iv


I  Multiple myeloma. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Published 2016. Accessed October 2022.

II  Islamni F, Ward E, Sung H et al. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer– National Cancer Institute. Published July 2021. Accessed October 2022.

III  Gertz MA. Multiple Myeloma. NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Published 2019. Accessed October 2022.

IV  Nooka A, Kastritis E, Dimopoulos M, Lonial S. Treatment options for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. Blood. 2015;125(20):3085-3099. doi:10.1182/blood-2014-11-568923.

V  Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma. American Cancer Society. Published 2018. Accessed October 2022.

VI  Kazandjian D. Multiple myeloma epidemiology and survival: A unique malignancy. Semin Oncol. 2016;43(6):676–681. doi:10.1053/j.seminoncol.2016.11.004.

VII  Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M et al. Cancer Stat Facts: Myeloma. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results – National Cancer institute. Published April 2018. Accessed October 2022.

VIII  Cowan A, Libby EN, Fitzmaurice C. Global burden of multiple myeloma: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease study 2016. JAMA Oncology. 2018;4(15_suppl). doi:10.1200/jco.2018.36.15_suppl.e20023.

IX  Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel R, et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021. doi:10.3322/caac.21660.

NP-GBL-MMU-OGM-220010 / November 2022

Learn more about the previous and current winners of the Target
the Future Think Tank Challenge, who are working to address
challenges that people living with multiple myeloma face.