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One hundred and fifty-six patients with multiple myeloma were treated over a period of 12 years at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. The progress of the disease was affected in 96/156 patients (61%). Response was defined as achieving a plateau of M component. A partial or complete response was seen in 68/120 patients treated conventionally (56.5%), and in 28/36 patients treated with high-dose therapy (77.7%). The median survival of the group as a whole was 20 months, with a 2-year survival of just over 40%. In the 36 patients treated with high-dose therapy, median survival was 6 years, and in a small group who have had maintenance Interferon therapy, the median has not yet been reached. In a univariate analysis, age, intensity of therapy, haemoglobin and creatinine levels were significant, but multivariate analysis showed that only age and intensity of therapy were independent predictors for survival. The outlook for relapsed patients who showed progression of disease remains poor, but palliation was best achieved by steroid and Interferon in combination. Patients who achieve complete responses and are maintained on Interferon appear to be doing better both in terms of freedom from symptoms and in survival, and methods to enable an elderly population to tolerate this form of therapy need to be explored.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann oncol

Publication Date





11 - 18


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Bone Marrow Transplantation, Combined Modality Therapy, Cyclophosphamide, Disease Progression, Doxorubicin, Female, Humans, Interferon alpha-2, Interferon-alpha, Male, Melphalan, Methotrexate, Middle Aged, Multiple Myeloma, Prednisolone, Procarbazine, Recombinant Proteins, Remission Induction, Survival Rate, Vincristine