Multiple myeloma: 2013 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report

*Correspondence to: S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55905. E-mail:


Disease overview

Multiple myeloma accounts for approximately 10% of hematologic malignancies.


The diagnosis requires 10% or more clonal plasma cells on bone marrow examination or a biopsy proven plasmacytoma plus evidence of associated end-organ damage. In addition, the presence of 60% or more clonal plasma cells in the marrow is also considered as myeloma regardless of the presence or absence of end-organ damage.

Risk stratification

In the absence of concurrent trisomies, patients with 17p deletion, t(14;16), and t(14;20) are considered to have high-risk myeloma. Patients with t(4;14) translocation are considered intermediate-risk. All others are considered as standard-risk.

Risk-adapted initial therapy

Standard-risk patients can be treated with lenalidomide plus low-dose dexamethasone (Rd), or a bortezomib-containing triplet such as bortezomib, cyclophosphamide, dexamethasone (VCD). Intermediate-risk and high-risk patients require a bortezomib-based triplet regimen. In eligible patients, initial therapy is given for approximately 4 months followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). Standard-risk patients can opt for delayed ASCT if stem cells can be cryopreserved. In patients are not candidates for transplant, initial therapy is given for approximately 12–18 months.

Maintenance therapy

After initial therapy, lenalidomide maintenance is considered for standard-risk patients who are not in very good partial response or better, while maintenance with a bortezomib-based regimen should be considered in pateints with intermediate or high-risk myeloma.

Management of refractory disease

Patients with indolent relapse can be treated first with two-drug or three-drug combinations. Patients with more aggressive relapse often require therapy with a combination of multiple active agents. Am. J. Hematol. 88:225–235, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.