Recently Diagnosed or Relapsed? Stop Looking For a Miracle Cure, and Use Evidence-Based Therapies To Enhance Your Treatment and Prolong Your Remission

Multiple Myeloma an incurable disease, but I have spent the last 25 years in remission using a blend of conventional oncology and evidence-based nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies from peer-reviewed studies that your oncologist probably hasn't told you about.

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Is Multiple Myeloma Curable?

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There’s no cure for multiple myeloma, but treatment can bring it into remission, meaning you don’t have any sign of the disease…”

While reading an online FB Group of Multiple Myeloma patients recently, I came across a post from a patient stating that her oncologist told her that 10%-15% of MM patients were cured. Thinking that this MMer misunderstood her oncologist, I suggested that perhaps the oncologist was referring to “functional cures” and not actual cures.

No, she replied, many of these MMers had survived for more than 20 years. Her oncologist said they were cured!

While the studies below show that MM five-year survival averages have increased, and that young, early stage, low-risk NDMM patients can achieve 20 plus year survivals, MM remains an incurable blood cancer.

For conventional oncologists to state or even imply otherwise is selling false hope.

The MyelomaCrowd, WebMD, Myeloma Research News, MM survivor and blogger Gary Peterson and Kenshai Suzuki M.D. writing in International Journal of Hematology  all agree. The five-year survival rate for MM is increasing. There are a growing number of MM survivors living for more than 20 years. But all MM survivors relapse eventually. All MM survivors eventually reach multi-drug resistance, end-stage and death.

Multiple Myeloma is an incurable blood cancer.

To state or even to imply otherwise is giving the newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patient and/or caregiver false hope.

Please don’t misunderstand me. MM therapies have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed with MM in early 1994. MM diagnostic testing has improved. Identification and treatment of MM symptoms and side effects such as:

  • Bone damage,
  • Kidney damage,
  • heart damage,
  • Hyperviscosity causing DVT,  blood clots,
  • Myelosuppression causing anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia,
  • Chemobrain etc.

all have improved remarkably.

But standard-of-care or high-dose chemotherapy for newly diagnosed MM patients, according to study after study, does not cure multiple myeloma.

In my experience, standard-of-care, FDA approved therapies for MM are just too much toxicity for the average MM patient. Standard-of-care treatments are certainly too much toxicity for older MM survivors. And considering the average age of a NDMM patient is 69, most MM patients are elderly. Many have co-morbidities that can complicate their MM care.

The key then, again, in my experience, is to manage MM, not try to cure it. By this I mean that NDMM patients should undergo as little chemotherapy needed to put them into remission. When a relapse occurs, more chemo. But just enough to restore remission. Follow this process again and again.

Less chemotherapy means less toxicity. Less toxicity means fewer, less severe side effects. Less toxicity means a slower march toward multi-drug resistance.

David Emerson

  • MM Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Functional Cure, Defined As PFS of More Than 7 Years, Is Achieved in 9% of Myeloma Patients in the Era of Conventional Chemotherapy and of First-Generation Novel Anti-Myeloma Agents; A Single-Center Experience over 20-Year Period

“Advances in the management of multiple myeloma (MM) led to a significant prolongation of overall survival (OS), mainly of the younger patients; almost 10% of them experience more than 10-year OS. Although long progression-free survival (PFS) correlates with extended OS, there is very limited information for the characteristics of patients who manage to be progression-free for a long period after first-line therapy…

In conclusion, our study in an unselected group of patients, the majority of whom did not participate in clinical trials, showed that 9% of patients with newly diagnosed myeloma experience prolonged PFS of more than 7 years (median: 10 years) even in the era of CC or first-generation novel agents.

These patients have low risk disease, mainly of ISS-1 or -2, no high-risk cytogenetics, no or mild renal impairment, and achieve deep responses after ASCT. These patients may be considered as “functionally” cured. The incorporation of novel treatment approaches may lead to a significant improvement in the probability of achievement of this “functionally” cured status.”

Annual Survival Rate Statistics Update – Multiple Myeloma Rate Unchanged


“New observational data from the United States National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) shows that the survival rate for multiple myeloma has stabilized with little change within the past year. This is comparative to the sizable increases of survival rates within the last two years.

Five-Year Relative Survival of U.S. Multiple Myeloma Patients
By Year of Diagnosis

“Most researchers believe that the improvements in myeloma survival that have taken place over the past 15 to 20 years have been due to the introduction of new drugs to treat multiple myeloma.”

Multiple Myeloma Stages and Prognosis

“What is a stage? When you’re first diagnosed with multiple myeloma, your doctor will assign it a number, called a stage, that describes how serious it is at that point. That number has a lot to do with the type of treatment your doctor will recommend and what you can expect from your disease going forward.

There’s no cure for multiple myeloma, but treatment can bring it into remission, meaning you don’t have any sign of the disease…”

Prognosis of Myeloma

Prognosis refers to the likely outcome of a disease and the chance of it recurring.

Myeloma does not currently have a cure, but the prognosis of the disease has improved greatly in recent years due to the availability of treatments that can help in its effective management.

Several factors influence the prognosis of myeloma. These include prognostic indicators, survival statistics, myeloma staging, minimal residue disease, and relapsed and refractory disease…”

Multiple Myeloma – Why Do People Beat the Average Myeloma Life Expectancy Prognosis? Or How To Improve Your Mulitple Myeloma Survival Rate!

The SEER(Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) data for multiple myeloma has been published in 2013 by the National Cancer Institute, and the average life expectancy remains at 4 years for the third year in a row.  

However, some people beat the odds and live 10 to 20 years or more.  When I was first diagnosed, the data for a person with dialysis-dependent kidney failure was just 3 months, and the overall average was 3 years. Now I am a 7 year and 10 month survivor, so I have beaten the average life expectancy prognosis at the time, and this was with what was called a negative prognostic indicator (kidney failure).   So I believe you can break into two parts a patient’s ability to beat the odds….”

Latest treatment strategies aiming for a cure in transplant-eligible multiple myeloma patients: how I cure younger MM patients with lower cost

“Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable disease, and responsiveness to treatment varies among patients due to the high heterogeneity of the disease [1, 2]. The decision on which treatment is best for MM has been a difficult issue. However, treatment of MM has advanced remarkably in the past 10 years (Fig. 1). MM patients can achieve long-term remissions and survival [3,4,5,6,7,8,9]…”

Characterization of Patients with Multiple Myeloma in Long- Term Remission

“Multiple Myeloma is still considered an incurable disease despite the development of new therapy options. However, there is a small fraction of patients achieving a long- term remission (LTR) after induction therapy followed by high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT).

Such patients that are still in complete remission or experience an indolent disease course over many years after high dose therapy are referred to as functionally cured.

To date, it is still unclear which patients experience a long term disease control…”


Leave a Comment:

Scott says a couple of years ago

I was recently told on my first trip to a specialist at UAMS that they are “curing” 30% of patients just like me. While my own research on this claim has made me question it’s validity, as they push the Total Therapy protocol strongly, that is exactly what he told me. They are curing 30% of patients with my type of multiple myeloma.

    David Emerson says a couple of years ago

    Hi Scott-

    UAMS is using the word “cure” to mean a functional cure. Oncology has a different definition of the word cure from how you and I define the word cure.

    To be clear, if you are young (50ies), low risk and have no other co-morbidites (heart, kidney, etc. damage) UAMS can give you a LOT of therapy and you may achieve a long first remission some of the time. Remember that a 30% chance of a long remission is also a 70% chance of undergoing a lot of toxicity and NOT achieving a long remission.

    The most important issue NOT discussed by either UAMS or by Dr. Rajkumar in the essay linked below, is the issue of short, long-term and late stage side effects. I think a long remission is an important achievement in MM yet I also think the patient needs to understand the risk of adverse events.

    I live with about a dozen long-term and late stage side effects all resulting from my own ASCT back in 1995. So I’m a little biased as you can imagine.

    I will link a study below indicating the risks of serious side effects that can result from the extreme toxicity.

    Long-term health impacts of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation inform recommendations for follow-up

    Defining Cure in Multiple Myeloma
    A Conversation With S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD

    The bottom line is that you are in a very different situation than the one exhibited by the “average” MM patient- a 70 year old at stage II or III according to research.

    UAMS takes an aggressive, high toxicity approach. My experience is to take a low-dose, more “control” approach. I would be happy to explain the controlled approach if you are interested. Your call.

    David Emerson (david.peoplebeatingcancer@gmail.com)

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