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Epidemiology in African Americans

Certain characteristics put some people at higher risk for multiple myeloma.

These risk factors include1,2:

  • Being male

  • Environmental or occupational exposures

  • Age

  • Obesity

  • Family history of multiple myeloma

  • MGUS or other plasma disorder

  • African American race

African Americans are often diagnosed at a younger age than White Americans.3

Since younger African American patients have a higher incidence of MGUS, a precursor to multiple myeloma, the chances of developing the disease are increased for this population.2* African Americans are 2 to 3 times more likely to have MGUS compared to White patients, and are nearly 2 times more likely to progress to multiple myeloma.5,6‡§

Note: According to a retrospective, population-based, cohort study, investigating obesity and the risk of progressing from MGUS to multiple myeloma.

  • *

    Prevalence rates are age-adjusted.

  • According to data obtained from a population of US veterans hospitalized between 1980-1996 and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database from 1999-2004.

  • Using multivariable analysis of 7878 patients diagnosed with MGUS in a US Veterans Health Administration database between 1999-2009.6

  • §

    A younger diagnosis of MGUS increases chances of developing multiple myeloma.

African Americans Have Different Cytogenetics in Multiple Myeloma

Several studies looked at common subtypes of myeloma that are used to determine risk.7-10 African Americans had a higher frequency of translocation 11;14 and a lower frequency of deletion 17p.7,9,10 This could indicate a better prognosis among African Americans compared with White Americans.

  • *When determined by FISH.

Even though their risk profile may result in better prognoses, they experience higher mortality, suggesting that poorer outcomes are a function of disparity of care.10

MGUS=Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance.

References: 1. PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma) Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated July 6, 2021. https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq. Accessed October 3, 2021. 2. Marinac CR, et al. Blood Cancer J. 2020;10:19. 3. SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Myeloma. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/mulmy.html. Accessed October 18, 2021. 4. Kumar S, et.al. Multiple Myeloma Awareness and African American Disparities. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/crchd/blog/2017/multiple-myeloma-disparities. Accessed October 18, 2021. 5. Pierre A, et al. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2020;24(4):439-443. 6. Chang S, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017;109(5):djw264. 7. Badar T, et al. Cancer. 2020;127(1):82-92. 8. Sonneveld P, et al. Blood. 2016;127(24):2955-2962. 9. Kazandjian D, et al. Blood Cancer J. 2019;9(2):15. 10. Fillmore N, et al. Blood Adv. 2021;5(18):3511-3514.

Related information

African Americans With Multiple Myeloma Overview

Read an overview about African Americans diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

Disparities in Care and Outcomes

Understand how African Americans have benefited less from treatment improvements compared to White patients.

Understanding Barriers

Read about the interrelated factors that lead to disparities in care.


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