POEMS syndrome: Definitions and long-term outcome

Angela Dispenzieri, Robert A. Kyle, Martha Q. Lacy, S. Vincent Rajkumar, Terry M. Therneau, Dirk R. Larson, Philip R. Greipp, Thomas E. Witzig, Rita Basu, Guillermo A. Suarez, Rafael Fonseca, John A. Lust, Morie A. Gertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

583 Scopus citations


The POEMS syndrome (coined to refer to polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, M protein, and skin changes) remains poorly understood. Ambiguity exists over the features necessary to establish the diagnosis, treatment efficacy, and prognosis. We identified 99 patients with POEMS syndrome. Minimal criteria were a sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy and evidence of a monoclonal plasma-proliferative disorder. To distinguish POEMS from neuropathy associated with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, additional criteria were included: a bone lesion, Castleman disease, organomegaly (or lymphadenopathy), endocrinopathy, edema (peripheral edema, ascites, or effusions), and skin changes. The median age at presentation was 51 years; 63% were men. Median survival was 165 months. With the exception of fingernail clubbing (P = .03) and extravascular volume overload (P = .04), no presenting feature, including the number of presenting features, was predictive of survival. Response to therapy (P < .001) was predictive of survival. Pulmonary hypertension, renal failure, thrombotic events, and congestive heart failure were observed and appear to be part of the syndrome. In 18 patients (18%), new disease manifestations developed over time. More than 50% of patients had a response to radiation, and 22% to 50% had responses to prednisone and a combination of melphalan and prednisone, respectively. We conclude that the median survival of patients with POEMS syndrome is 165 months, independent of the number of syndrome features, bone lesions, or plasma cells at diagnosis. Additional features of the syndrome often develop, but the complications of classic multiple myeloma rarely develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2496-2506
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'POEMS syndrome: Definitions and long-term outcome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this