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How Diabetes Could Affect Multiple Myeloma Survival Rates
Posted: Oct 18, 2023
How Diabetes Could Affect Multiple Myeloma Survival Rates image

Multiple myeloma patients with diabetes need extra care to make sure that both the disease (myeloma) and the comorbidity (diabetes) are being properly monitored and addressed. But what role does diabetes play in how long a myeloma patient lives? 

This can be a sensitive topic, and not everyone is ready to read about prognosis or survival statistics. Remember, it's up to you to determine what you can handle at the moment and where you need to draw the line. 

The Relationship Between Diabetes and Mulitple Myeloma Prognosis 

If you are ready to dive in, let's discuss the connection between diabetes and your multiple myeloma prognosis. To be clear, the research in this area is just beginning, and information is limited. But thanks to the research of specialists such as Dr. Urvi Shah of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), research in this area is making advances.

In this particular study, Dr. Shah and her team of other myeloma specialists and researchers in the New York area analyzed 5383 myeloma patients, 15% of whom had diabetes. They concluded there is a reduced overall survival rate for myeloma patients with diabetes, but further analysis showed that there was a marked difference in overall survival between White patients with/without diabetes, where there was no significant difference in survival between Black patients with/without diabetes. 

In contrast, obesity was associated with better overall survival in Black patients, where the same benefit is not seen in White patients. 

Dr. Shah shared of the observations

"We knew from prior studies that patients with multiple myeloma and diabetes have lower survival rates, but what we did not know is how these outcomes differ between races." 

The New York team put these findings to the test using mouse models, immunocompromised mice with diabetes. The mice they chose were not obese. There were also control mice being observed.

The researchers observed multiple myeloma growths within these genetically-engineered mouse models. The myeloma within these mice grew rapidly, spreading quickly in a short amount of time. 

Again, while this data is fascinating, it's the first of its kind. 

The abstract of this study reads, 

"Our study is the first to evaluate racial differences in [diabetes] prevalence and survival in [multiple myeloma] as well as the effect of [diabetes] on tumor growth in mouse models. Our results suggest that [diabetes] may contribute to the higher incidence of [multiple myeloma] in Black patients, and to improve survival in [multiple myeloma diabetes] management cannot be ignored."

For more information on the study, read the ASH publication here: Prevalence and impact of diabetes on survival of multiple myeloma 

Stay tuned as we know this type of research is important to our myeloma community and we remain committed to sharing updates within the field of myeloma research. 

The author Audrey Burton-Bethke

about the author
Audrey Burton-Bethke

Audrey is the Editor for the HealthTree Foundation for Multiple Myeloma. She originally joined the HealthTree Foundation in 2020 as the Myeloma Community Program Director. While not knowing much about myeloma initially, she worked hard to educate herself, empathize and learn from others' experiences. She loves this job. Audrey is passionate about serving others, loves learning, and enjoys iced chais from Dutch Bros. She also loves spending time with her supportive husband and energetic three-year-old. 

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