Multiple Myeloma: the silent killer in the community


Since the launch of the Department of Health’s ‘Improving Outcomes’ initiative to better health outcomes for cancer in 2011, a progress report published last year reveals that survival rates for myeloma, five years after diagnosis, have witnessed the sharpest increases between 2007 and 2012 (3.9% for men and 4.6% for women). Yet due to lack of national statistics by race and ethnicity for Multiple myeloma, it remains difficult to map the disease burden among African and African Caribbean people and assess whether they have been able to take advantage of progressive measures.

Given the higher prevalence of the blood cancer among this population, death rates are presumably higher. Important socio economic determinants preventing equal access to prevention diagnosis and treatment are further likely to contribute to racial discrepancy in outcomes for Multiple myeloma. Indeed delayed presentation, lack of awareness about the cancer and deprivation are all consistent characteristics of Black people's health in the UK and have been found to be linked to increased chances of Multiple myeloma complications and reduced disease free survival.

In this light, AHPN believes much remains to be done on epidemiological data collection, understanding the aetiology of the disease and the needs and experiences of African and African Caribbean with regards to Multiple myeloma in the UK. Appropriate programs and services that address the disparities this group faces in the UK should be commissioned and championed.

We welcome NICE guidance for the diagnosis and management of Multiple myeloma expected to be published in February 2016 which recognises the vulnerability of African and Afro Caribbean to Multiple myeloma. Yet we remain concerned by its claims that no specific considerations should be drawn for any group. Click here to read more.