Smoldering multiple myeloma requiring treatment: Time for a new definition?

Angela Dispenzieri, A. Keith Stewart, Asher Chanan-Khan, S. Vincent Rajkumar, Robert A. Kyle, Rafael Fonseca, Prashant Kapoor, P. Leif Bergsagel, Arleigh McCurdy, Morie A. Gertz, Martha Q. Lacy, John A. Lust, Stephen J. Russell, Steven R. Zeldenrust, Craig Reeder, Vivek Roy, Francis Buadi, David Dingli, Suzanne R. Hayman, Nelson LeungYi Lin, Joseph Mikhael, Shaji K. Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) bridges the gap between monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (a mostly premalignant disorder) and active multiple myeloma (MM). Until recently, no interventional study in patients with SMM showed improved overall survival (OS) with therapy as compared with observation. A report from the PETHEMA-GEM (Programa Español de Tratamientos en Hematologica) group described both fewer myelomarelated events and better OS among patients with high-risk SMM who were treated with lenalidomide and dexamethasone. This unique study prompted us to review current knowledge about SMM and address the following questions: (1) Are there patients currently defined as SMM who should be treated routinely? (2) Should the definitions of SMM and MM be reconsidered? (3) Has the time come when not treating is more dangerous than treating? (4) Could unintended medical harm result from overzealous intervention? Our conclusion is that those patients with the highest-risk SMM (extreme bone marrow plasmacytosis, extremely abnormal serum immunoglobulin free light chain ratio, and multiple bone lesions detected only by modern imaging) should be reclassified as active MM so that they can receive MM-appropriate therapy and the paradigm of careful observation for patients with SMM can be preserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4172-4181
Number of pages10
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 19 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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