March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month

Join with the aacr to find better ways to prevent and treat multiple myeloma

multiple myeloma awareness month

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in plasma cells, white blood cell that are important to a healthy immune system. Over time, myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow, forming tumors in many of the body’s bones. These tumors may keep the bone marrow from making enough healthy blood cells and may weaken the bones. 

While the causes of multiple myeloma are not fully understood, it is more common in older people, especially men, and African Americans. Some common symptoms include bone pain, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections, and frequent urination. 

The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that more than 35,730 people living in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2023 and that 12,590 will die of the disease.

Multiple myeloma is one of the specific cancer types, along with stomach and prostate cancer, that show the largest racial disparities in incidence and mortality, with death rates more than two-fold higher in Black people than in whites. The difference is believed to be due in part to disparities in access to quality health care and newer treatment options. The problem is discussed in the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2022: The State of Cancer Health Disparities in 2022.

One Person’s story

A clinical trial testing CAR T-cell therapy in patients with multiple myeloma proved to be a great success for Ellen Reich. Read her story, and more about new treatments for multiple myeloma, on the AACR blog, Cancer Research Catalyst: From Bench to Bedside: New Frontiers in Multiple Myeloma.

What the AACR is Doing in The Area of multiple myeloma Research

In April 2021, AACR presented a virtual special conference on myeloma. This virtual meeting was the first AACR conference focused on myeloma and discussed the genomics and epigenetics of myeloma, disease progression, and treatment options. Learn more here.

The AACR journal Blood Cancer Discovery provides a critical outlet for high-impact basic, translational, and clinical research on all hematologic cancers, including multiple myeloma.

Supporting Research

The AACR has recently awarded research grants to investigators pursuing promising research related to multiple myeloma

In 2022, Kara Cicero, MD, MPH, a clinical fellow in hematology and medical oncology at Columbia University, received the AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Cancer Disparities Research Fellowship to study prevalence and risk factors of MGUS (Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance, a multiple myeloma precursor) in a black sub-Saharan African population.

“I hope that our study will deepen our understanding of the racial disparities surrounding MGUS and multiple myeloma in an understudied population that is also most likely to be affected,” she said.

In 2021, Julia Frede, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was awarded a two-year AACR-Amgen Fellowship in Clinical/Translational Cancer Research. Dr. Frede’s project seeks to define therapeutic approaches that can overcome therapy resistance in patients with multiple myeloma by delineating changes in functional states which can be targeted. She is performing RNA sequencing of single myeloma cells in longitudinal samples from patients with relapsed/refractory myeloma to analyze and investigate changes in differentiation states.

“The [fellowship] gives me the opportunity to pursue my research investigating transcriptional heterogeneity and epigenetic plasticity in myeloma,” Dr. Freda said.

for more information

Please see our page on multiple myeloma, which includes information on treatment options.