When your doctor tells you that your multiple myeloma is "in remission", what exactly does that mean? Myeloma experts divide patients into different response categories following treatment according to CIBMTR. These response levels are used in myeloma clinical trials to indicate a more granular way of measuring response to therapy.
Minimal residual disease (MRD) testing is now even more sensitive than the descriptions below. Achieving MRD negativity is preferred following treatment, but some patients have continuous low levels of disease for long periods of time. We anticipate that more study on MRD testing will be performed and get us closer to a way of predicting long-term outcomes. Today, MRD testing is being used in clinical trials but is not necessarily used to determine whether treatment will be stopped.
So the next time you are tested following myeloma therapy, ask your doctor what type of response you achieved and then reference the below to better understand what it means.
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