Survival Rates

Winning the Battle Against Multiple Myeloma

Myeloma is a type of cancer in which plasma cells—a type of white blood cell—grow out of control. Most people with myeloma have myeloma tumors in several places in their body. That’s why this disease is often called “multiple myeloma.” Because every myeloma is unique, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) specialists target treatment to each patient’s situation.

Statistics Are Abstract; Lives Aren’t

Becky Voelkel, MyelomaSurvivor Becky Voelkel was diagnosed with stage III multiple myeloma in 2008. A year later she had a bone marrow transplant and today feels like her cancer will never return. Read more about Becky.

If you have myeloma, where you choose to go for initial treatment has a significant impact on the likelihood of survival. Myeloma patients at SCCA have access to advanced therapies and treatments being explored in some 25 ongoing clinical trials for multiple myeloma conducted at SCCA’s founding organizations, Fred Hutch and UW Medicine. For people with myeloma who are good candidates for stem cell transplants, the Fred Hutch Transplant Program at SCCA is the most experienced transplant center in the world. As you can see below, patients treated for myeloma at SCCA have high five-year survival rates.

Multiple Myeloma Survival Rates

Below are the five-year survival rates for multiple myeloma patients treated by SCCA compared to patients who were treated for multiple myeloma elsewhere. This information was collected by the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) for patients who were diagnosed and treated between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years.

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 63 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 36 percent.

The charts above include patients who were diagnosed between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years. The five-year observed survival rates are estimated using the actuarial method with one-month intervals. The endpoint is death from any cause (not cancer specific death); patients may have died from causes unrelated to their cancer. Calculations were performed using the NCDB Survival Reports software tool. Survival rates are not displayed when fewer than 30 cases are available, as survival rates calculated from small numbers of cases can yield misleading results and may have very wide confidence intervals.

The outcomes presented in the figures are not risk-adjusted. That is, the NCDB did not account for demographic differences (e.g., age at diagnosis, gender, socioeconomic status, and insurance status), prognostic factors, and comorbidities for SCCA and other hospitals. Also, the NCDB did not account for subjective differences in staging practices among hospitals. For example, it is possible that a cancer considered stage I at one hospital might be considered stage II at another hospital due to practice pattern variations. The outcomes comparisons presented here might have differed if the NCDB had accounted for such demographic and staging differences in our analyses.

The NCDB tracks the outcomes of 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer in the United States from more than 1,500 commission-accredited cancer programs. It has been collecting data from hospital cancer registries since 1989 and now has almost 30 million records.

Frequently Asked Questions

Data Collection Methodology