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Stage Information

No generally accepted staging system exists for monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), isolated plasmacytoma of bone, or extramedullary plasmacytoma. Of the plasma cell neoplasms, a staging system exists only for multiple myeloma.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is staged by estimating the myeloma tumor cell mass on the basis of the amount of monoclonal (or myeloma) protein (M protein) in the serum and/or urine, along with various clinical parameters, such as hemoglobin and serum calcium concentrations, the number of lytic bone lesions, and the presence or absence of renal failure. Impaired renal function worsens prognosis regardless of stage.

The stage of the disease at presentation is a strong determinant of survival, but it has little influence on the choice of therapy since almost all patients, except for rare patients with solitary bone tumors or extramedullary plasmacytomas, have generalized disease.

International staging system

The International Myeloma Working Group studied 11,171 patients, of whom 2,901 received high-dose therapy and 8,270 received only standard-dose therapy.[1]

An International Staging System was derived and is shown below in Table 2.[1]

Table 2. The International Staging System for Multiple Myeloma

StageCriteriaMedian Survival (mo)
IBeta-2-microglobulin <3.5 mg/L and albumin ?3.5 g/dL62
IIBeta-2-microglobulin <3.5 mg/L and albumin <3.5 g/dL or beta-2-microglobulin 3.5 mg/L to <5.5 mg/L44
IIIBeta-2-microglobulin ?5.5 mg/L29

Genetic factors and risk groups

Genetic aberrations detected by interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) may define prognostic groups in retrospective and prospective analyses.[2,3] Short survival and shorter duration of response to therapy have been reported with t(4;14)(p16;q32), t(14;16)(q32;q23), cytogenetic deletion of 13q-14, and deletion of 17p13 (p53 locus).[2,3,4,5,6] The question of whether the choice of therapy based on FISH analysis can influence outcome must await further study in prospective trials.

Newer clinical investigations are stratifying patients with multiple myeloma into a so-called standard-risk group, which accounts for 75% of patients and has a median survival of 3 to 6 years, and a high-risk group, which has a median survival of less than 3 years.[2,3,4,5,6,7] (See Table 3 below.) This stratification, based on cytogenetic findings, has been derived from retrospective analyses and requires prospective validation.[7] Bone marrow samples are sent for cytogenetic and FISH analysis.

Table 3. Risk Groups for Multiple Myeloma

FISH = fluorescence in situ hybridization.
Risk GroupCytogenetic FindingsDisease Characteristics
Standard riskHas any of the following cytogenetic findings: (1) no adverse FISH or cytogenetics, (2) hyperdiploidy, (3) t(11;14) by FISH, or (4) t(6;14) by FISH.These patients most often have (1) disease that expresses IgG kappa monoclonal gammopathies and (2) lytic bone lesions.
High riskHas any of the following cytogenetic findings: (1) del 17p by FISH, (2) t(4;14) by FISH, (3) t(14;16) by FISH, (4) cytogenetic del 13, or (5) hypodiploidy.These patients have (1) disease that expresses IgA lambda monoclonal gammopathies (often) and (2) skeletal-related complications (less often).


  1. Greipp PR, San Miguel J, Durie BG, et al.: International staging system for multiple myeloma. J Clin Oncol 23 (15): 3412-20, 2005.
  2. Fonseca R, Blood E, Rue M, et al.: Clinical and biologic implications of recurrent genomic aberrations in myeloma. Blood 101 (11): 4569-75, 2003.
  3. Avet-Loiseau H, Attal M, Moreau P, et al.: Genetic abnormalities and survival in multiple myeloma: the experience of the Intergroupe Francophone du My�lome. Blood 109 (8): 3489-95, 2007.
  4. Gertz MA, Lacy MQ, Dispenzieri A, et al.: Clinical implications of t(11;14)(q13;q32), t(4;14)(p16.3;q32), and -17p13 in myeloma patients treated with high-dose therapy. Blood 106 (8): 2837-40, 2005.
  5. Guti�rrez NC, Castellanos MV, Mart�n ML, et al.: Prognostic and biological implications of genetic abnormalities in multiple myeloma undergoing autologous stem cell transplantation: t(4;14) is the most relevant adverse prognostic factor, whereas RB deletion as a unique abnormality is not associated with adverse prognosis. Leukemia 21 (1): 143-50, 2007.
  6. Sagaster V, Ludwig H, Kaufmann H, et al.: Bortezomib in relapsed multiple myeloma: response rates and duration of response are independent of a chromosome 13q-deletion. Leukemia 21 (1): 164-8, 2007.
  7. Dispenzieri A, Rajkumar SV, Gertz MA, et al.: Treatment of newly diagnosed multiple myeloma based on Mayo Stratification of Myeloma and Risk-adapted Therapy (mSMART): consensus statement. Mayo Clin Proc 82 (3): 323-41, 2007.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 16, 2012
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