Personalized therapy in multiple myeloma according to patient age and vulnerability: a report of the European Myeloma Network (EMN)

Antonio Palumbo, Sara Bringhen, Heinz Ludwig, Meletios A. Dimopoulos, Joan Bladé, Maria V. Mateos, Laura Rosiñol, Mario Boccadoro, Michele Cavo, Henk Lokhorst, Sonja Zweegman, Evangelos Terpos, Faith Davies, Christoph Driessen, Peter Gimsing, Martin Gramatzki, Roman Hàjek, Hans E. Johnsen, Fernando Leal Da Costa, Orhan Sezer, Andrew Spencer, Meral Beksac, Gareth Morgan, Hermann Einsele, Jesus F. San Miguel and Pieter Sonneveld


The majority of patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM) are aged >65 years with 30% aged >75 years. Many elderly patients are also vulnerable due to comorbidities that complicate the management of MM. The prevalence of MM is expected to rise over time due to an aging population. Most elderly MM patients are ineligible for autologous transplantation and the standard treatment has, until recently, been melphalan plus prednisone. The introduction of novel agents, such as thalidomide, bortezomib and lenalidomide, has improved outcomes; however, elderly MM patients are more susceptible to side effects and are often unable to tolerate full drug doses. For these patients, lower-dose-intensity regimens improve the safety profile and thus optimize treatment outcome. Further research into the best treatment strategies for vulnerable elderly patients is urgently needed. Appropriate screening for vulnerability and an assessment of cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hepatic and neurological function, as well as age >75 years, at the start of therapy allows treatment strategies to be individualized and drug doses to be tailored to improve tolerability and optimize efficacy. Similarly, occurrence of serious non-hematologic adverse events during treatment should be carefully taken into account to adjust doses and optimize outcomes.

  • Submitted June 8, 2011.
  • Accepted August 4, 2011.