Multiple Myeloma Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Multiple myeloma is the 14th most common cancer in the United States

Myeloma is the 14th most common cancer in the United States. It’s also known as Kahler disease, myelomatosis, plasma cell myeloma, and plasmacytoma.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that develops from cells called plasma cells. These plasma cells create copious amounts of antibodies (immune proteins). They’re typically found in the bone marrow but can also develop in other areas of the body, especially once they become myeloma.

Myelomas were predicted to account for 1.8% of all new cancer cases in the United States in 2022, as well as 2.1% of cancer deaths.

This article will highlight important facts and statistics you should know about multiple myeloma, including how common it is, who is at risk, its causes, and the associated mortality rates.

Person seeing healthcare provider for multiple myeloma

ER Productions Limited / Getty Images

Multiple Myeloma Overview

Myelomas are blood cancers that develop from plasma cells in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the bones that makes blood cells. Plasma cells are cells that each make a specific antibody. Antibodies are special proteins that help the body recognize and fight off germs.

In myeloma, these plasma cells form a tumor that can damage the bone and disrupt the bone marrow's ability to create blood cells and platelets (cells involved in clotting), causing issues with clotting and infections.

The plasma cells also start to produce a protein called M protein, a broken antibody that is not usually present in the body. This protein can clump and damage other body parts, including the kidneys.

Myeloma can be slow-growing and is sometimes found on routine blood tests before symptoms appear. It has three types or stages, which are:

  • Plasmacytoma: The presence of a single myeloma tumor
  • Smoldering multiple myeloma: Early myeloma that has no symptoms
  • Multiple myeloma: Cancer with numerous plasma cell tumors

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program database catalogs information on myeloma. Much of the data in this article are from this database and include myeloma present in a single bone (localized) and myeloma that has spread to multiple bones (multiple myeloma).

About 95% of the myeloma cases in the database are multiple myeloma.

How Common Is Multiple Myeloma?

Myeloma is relatively uncommon. Out of every 100,000 people, 7.1 will be diagnosed with myeloma yearly based on data from 2015 to 2019. About 3.2 out of 100,000 will die from it.

The NCI had estimated there would be around 34,470 new myeloma cases in 2022 (1.8% of all new cancer cases). These same estimates put deaths caused by myeloma at about 12,640 in 2022, or 2.1% of cancer deaths.

About 0.8% of people will get myeloma during their lifetime. In 2019, there were about 159,787 people in the United States living with myeloma. New myeloma cases were stable between 2010 and 2019, but the death rate has been falling on average by 1.0% annually.

Multiple Myeloma by Ethnicity and Gender

Myeloma seems to be more common in males than females. It’s more than twice as common in Black Americans than in Whites and Hispanics.

Myeloma in Males by Ethnicity
Ethnicity New Cases  Deaths 
All Races 8.8 4.0
Non-Hispanic White 8.1 3.8
Non-Hispanic Black 17.0 7.4
Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander 5.1 1.9
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 9.1  4.3
Hispanic 8.1 3.3
The table shows new cases of and deaths from myeloma per 100,000 males, broken down by ethnicity. Data are from the NCI SEER database averaged from 2015 to 2019.
Myeloma in Females by Ethnicity
Ethnicity New Cases  Deaths 
All Races 5.9 2.5
Non-Hispanic White 5.0 2.3
Non-Hispanic Black 12.9 5.1
Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander 3.2 1.3
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 6.1 2.8
Hispanic 5.9 2.2
The table shows new cases of and deaths from myeloma per 100,000 females, broken down by ethnicity. Data are from the NCI SEER database averaged over the years 2015 to 2019.

Myeloma by Age

Myelomas are also more common in older people than younger people. The average age at diagnosis is 69, most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 74.

The older you get, the more deadly myeloma becomes. The percentage of deaths from myeloma is highest between ages 75 and 84, and the median age at death from myeloma is 75.

Percent of Myeloma New Cases and Deaths by Age
Age New Cases  Deaths
Under 20 0.0% 0.0%
20–34 0.4% 0.1%
35–44 2.7% 0.8%
45–54 10.1% 4.3%
55–64 22.8% 14.7%
65–74 31.5% 28.4%
75–84 23.5% 32.3%
Over 84 9.0% 19.5%
The table shows the percentage of new cases and deaths from myeloma within age groups. Data are from the NCI SEER database averaged from 2015 to 2019.

Causes of Myeloma and Risk Factors

Most of the time, there isn’t an identifiable cause for multiple myeloma.

Developing precancerous plasma cell disorders like monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or having had plasmacytoma will put you at high risk of developing myeloma, as well as:

  • Being exposed to radiation or certain chemicals
  • A family history of myeloma
  • Excess weight

What Are the Mortality Rates for Multiple Myeloma?

The five-year survival rates for myeloma are not encouraging. Five years after diagnosis with myeloma, only 57.9% of people will still be alive.

Survival rates are better if the myeloma hasn’t spread the time of diagnosis. This localized myeloma has a five-year survival rate of 78.5%, though healthcare providers only find 4.1% of cases this early. 

Once myeloma has become distant (spread from the bone where it originally developed into multiple other bones), the survival rate drops. Distant myeloma has a survival rate of 57%, making up about 95% of the cases of myeloma.

Despite this, survival rates have been rising steadily since 2000, when the five-year survival rate was 34.5%.

What Is Survival Rate?

The NCI uses the five-year mark for survival rates. Survival rates are typically the percentage of people who are still living with a condition for a specified time. But, survival rates can be presented in many different ways. They also have limitations. They do not predict an individual's prognosis, which is influenced by many factors.

Screening and Early Detection of Myeloma

The earlier a healthcare provider can diagnose myeloma, the better the prognosis (expected outcome) is. Healthcare providers don't find many cases of myeloma early, though.

Often, symptoms don't appear until myeloma has spread to multiple bones in the body. Symptoms of myeloma are vague and often similar to symptoms of other diseases and are hard to spot.

Healthcare providers will monitor people with plasma cell disorders and others at high risk of developing myeloma with blood tests, which can help discover that their disease has progressed to myeloma early.

In people without plasma cell disorders, myeloma may be discovered in blood tests for other conditions, but there are no standard early screening tests for myeloma.

Tests that look for signs of myeloma include those that count the blood cells and those that look for specific proteins and chemicals in the blood.

The healthcare provider may also test your urine for protein, do imaging scans of your body, and recommend a biopsy of the bone marrow or a lymph node. In a biopsy, a sample is obtained by aspiration or surgical procedure and analyzed in the laboratory.


Myeloma is the 14th most common cancer in the United States. They make up 1.8% of all new cancer cases in the United States but 2.1% of cancer deaths.

This type of cancer develops in antibody-producing cells called plasma cells found in the bone marrow. It can lead to blood issues, like excessive bleeding or infections, and can damage organs, including the bones and the kidneys.

It is most common in males and Black Americans than other groups. There are no known causes of myeloma. A little more than half of the people diagnosed with myeloma will live more than five years from being diagnosed.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer stat facts: myeloma.

  2. National Cancer Institute. Plasma cell neoplasms (including multiple myeloma) treatment (PDQ®)–patient version.

  3. American Cancer Society. What is multiple myeloma?

  4. American Cancer Society. Risk ractors for multiple myeloma.

  5. American Cancer Society. What causes multiple myeloma?

  6. American Cancer Society. Can multiple myeloma be found early?

  7. American Cancer Society. Tests to find multiple myeloma.

By Jennifer Welsh
Jennifer Welsh is a Connecticut-based science writer and editor with over ten years of experience under her belt. She’s previously worked and written for WIRED Science, The Scientist, Discover Magazine, LiveScience, and Business Insider.