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Eur J Cancer. 2003 Jan;39(1):31-7.

Response to first-line chemotherapy and long-term survival in patients with multiple myeloma: results of the MM87 prospective randomised protocol.

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Medicina Interna e Oncologia Medica, Università and Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Policlinico S. Matteo, 27100 Pavia, Italy.


In this study we evaluated whether a good response to conventional chemotherapy, i.e. a significant tumour reduction, is a prerequisite for improved survival in multiple myeloma (MM). Between January 1987 and March 1990, 341 consecutive previously untreated patients with MM received chemotherapy within the prospective, multicentre, randomised Protocol MM87. Of these, 258 patients were evaluable for both response and long-term survival and 244 (94.6%) have died. The median survival of all patients was 40 months (6-162 months). The median survival did not differ between patients who had complete response (CR) (50 months (9-162 months)), partial response (PR) (46 months (8-147 months)) or stable disease (SD) (41 months (7-135 months)). The median survival was shorter (13.6 months (6-135 months)) (P<0.0001) in patients whose disease progressed while they were receiving first induction chemotherapy. Causes of death were more frequently (P=0.04) related to MM in patients who had progressive disease (PD) than in patients who had a CR or PR or SD. The main clinical and laboratory characteristics were similar in the four groups. These data indicate that patients who maintain SD during first-line chemotherapy have a prognosis similar to that of patients who attain a response. Only patients whose disease progresses have a distinctly worse outcome.

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