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Despite significant progress in multiple myeloma treatment, access to these cutting-edge therapies remains largely influenced by socioeconomic status. Individuals with low income living in economically deprived areas often experience worse outcomes.

Novel therapies have improved the prognosis for patients with multiple myeloma (MM), but there are still socioeconomic disparities in patient outcomes in the United States. Patients living in low socioeconomic areas have worse outcomes, and a person’s individual socioeconomic status (SES) has an additional effect. Societal prejudices and access to care can differ depending on individual and area income status, which contributes to quality of life and health outcomes.

Investigating the Effects of Residential Area and Socioeconomic Status

In a retrospective study published in the Journal of Geriatric Oncology, scientists at the University of Maryland used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Medicare dataset to investigate the interaction between living area and individual SES on MM outcomes. The Social Deprivation Index was used as an area deprivation measure, and SES was determined at the month of MM diagnosis.

Low-income status decreased the overall survival rate from 27 months in non-low-income patients to 16 months in low-income patients. There was a significant association between area deprivation and mortality, and this association differed depending on individuals’ low-income status. Among low-income individuals, those in the most deprived areas had a higher death hazard than those in less deprived areas. In all levels of area deprivation, low-income individuals had a higher hazard of death than those without low income.

The Need for Further Research and Improving Access to Care

In low-income individuals, more deprived environments increased the hazard of death, showing an interaction between individual and surrounding area wealth. More research is needed to determine how survival outcomes become dependent on income status so that providers may improve access to care and patient outcomes.

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Hong, Y. D., Mullins, C. D., Onukwugha, E., Yared, J. A., Zheng, Z., & Slejko, J. F. (2023). Association of individual low-income status and area deprivation with mortality in multiple myeloma. Journal of Geriatric Oncology, 14(2), 101415. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jgo.2022.12.003