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According to the International Myeloma Foundation, there are key differences in how multiple myeloma presents in African Americans compared to people of other ethnicities.

First, African Americans tend to have an earlier age of onset of the disease. Second, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a precancerous condition that can progress to multiple myeloma, is twice as common among African Americans than Caucasian Americans. Third, the incidence of multiple myeloma is greater in African Americans and other people of African descent [1].

African Americans with multiple myeloma also experience disparities in which treatments are offered to them and how quickly treatment is initiated. These disparities in treatment contribute to the greater prevalence of the disease among African Americans.

According to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), stem cell therapy, a cornerstone of multiple myeloma treatment, is significantly under-utilized in Black patients with the disease. The MMRF also notes that the median time for initiation of first-line therapy is significantly longer for Black patients with the disease than for patients of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, the median time from the time of diagnosis to the initiation of novel therapy is also significantly longer for Black patients.

However, when these disparities in treatment are eliminated, Black Americans with multiple myeloma have been shown to have an equal or often better survival rate than patients of other ethnicities with the disease [2]. A call to action is made to improve access to timely and appropriate treatment for Black Americans with multiple myeloma to optimize their clinical outcomes and rectify these disparities.


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[1] International Myeloma Foundation. (2022). How is myeloma different in African Americans?https://www.myeloma.org/diversity/how-myeloma-different-african-americans


[2] The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. (2021, April 5). Multiple myeloma in Black patients. https://themmrf.org/multiple-myeloma/black-patients/

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