Multiple myeloma (MM) remains an incurable cancer. Treatment often is initiated at the time patients experience a progressive increase in tumor burden. The authors of this report investigated magnetic resonance imaging of the bone marrow (BM-MRI) as a novel approach to quantify disease burden and validated a staging system by correlating BM-MRI with common clinical and laboratory parameters.
The extent of bone marrow involvement was evaluated by BM-MRI. Clinical and laboratory parameters were assessed in patients with active MM, and correlations between variables were assessed statistically. Bone marrow involvement by BM-MRI was defined as stage A (0%), stage B (<10%), stage C (10%-50%), and stage D (>50%).
In total, 170 consecutive patients were evaluated (77 women and 93 men), including 144 patients who had active MM. The median age was 61 years (age range, 35-83 years). Advance stage disease (stage >I) based on Durie-Salmon (DS) staging or International Staging System (ISS) criteria was observed in 122 patients (84%) and 77 patients (53%), respectively. Lytic bone disease was noted in 120 patients (83%). There was a significant association between BM-MRI involvement and DS stage (P = .0006), ISS stage (P = .0001), the presence of lytic bone disease (P < .0001) and mean β-2 microglobulin levels (P < .0001). Among the patients with previously untreated MM, there was a significant association between BM-MRI stage and overall survival (OS) (univariate P = .013; multivariate P = .045). Plasmacytosis on bone marrow biopsy at diagnosis was not predictive of OS (P = .91).
BM-MRI is a novel approach for quantifying disease burden in patients with MM. The current investigation in a large cohort of nontransplantion MM patients demonstrated that the extent of bone marrow involvement determined by BM-MRI correlates accurately with other conventional parameters of disease burden and can independently predict survival in patients with MM at the time of initial diagnosis. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.