Sociodemographic factors, not race or ethnicity, impact survival of younger patients with multiple myeloma, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Despite recent advances in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma, improvements in survival have been found predominantly among young and white patients. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate how sociodemographic factors and race/ethnicity impact survival in younger patients with multiple myeloma.

For the study, investigators analyzed overall survival data from 10,161 patients who were younger than 65 years at diagnosis between 2007 and 2012 and included in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER-18) program. Sociodemographic factors assessed were marital status, insurance status, median household income, and educational achievement in the county of residence.

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Results showed that inclusion in the SEER registry, age, male sex, marital status (other than married), insurance status (uninsured or Medicaid), and county-level income (lowest 2 quartiles) were associated with an increased risk of death; however, race/ethnicity did not correlate with survival.

The 4-year estimated overall survival rate was 71.1%, 63.2%, 53.4%, and 46.5% (P <.001), respectively, for patients with 0, 1, 2, or 3 adverse sociodemographic factors. 

Researchers also found that Hispanic and non-Hispanic black patients had more adverse sociodemographic factors and worse overall survival compared with non-Hispanic white patients.

“This finding strongly suggests that there is a huge disparity in outcomes that could potentially be overcome by improving access and affordability of treatments,” said Luciano Costa, MD, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “With the recent emphasis on comparative effectiveness in oncology, it also becomes crucial that all variables affecting outcomes — including sociodemographic factors — are accounted for when comparisons between different therapeutic approaches and health care systems are made.”


1. Costa LJ, Brill IK, Brown EE. Impact of marital status, insurance status, income, and race/ethnicity on the survival of younger patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the United States. Cancer. 2016 Aug 22. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30183. [Epub ahead of print]