You may not have ever heard of myeloma and you aren’t alone. Accounting for 2% of all new cancer cases per year, with incidence rates highest in people aged 85-89, many people in the UK are not aware of this rare form of blood cancer, let alone able to recognise its symptoms.1,2
Myeloma occurs within the bone marrow and is also known as multiple myeloma due to it commonly affecting several different areas of the body, including the spine, skull, pelvis and ribs3. The symptoms of myeloma can be relatively generic and might not appear until the disease is in the more advanced stages, making it hard for patients to recognise and early diagnosis difficult. The main symptoms include bone pain, recurring infections, kidney problems, anaemia, weakness and fatigue4. There is currently no cure for myeloma, and whilst it is treatable, survival is dependent upon a variety of factors.2
Although myeloma can impact anyone, it is twice as common in Black ethnic groups compared to White or Asian groups3 and black men have the highest risk of any group.2 Myeloma occurs approximately four years earlier in patients of black African and Caribbean heritage and they have a higher mortality rate5. Members of the black population are more likely to present to their healthcare professional at later stages of their disease too.1
“Despite the fact that myeloma is over twice as common in people with black African and Caribbean heritage in the UK, we are concerned that awareness and understanding of the disease is low among this at-risk group. Giving a voice to the whole myeloma community is at the heart of our strategy at Myeloma UK and we are continually looking at ways we can make it easier for patients to access the information and support they need.”
“We believe every patient, regardless of their community or where they live, should receive a prompt diagnosis to ensure their best possible outcomes. At the same time, government, the NHS, and its partner agencies must work together to create diagnosis, referral and treatment protocols that reflect the challenges experienced by black myeloma patients, with an urgent commitment to reduce health inequalities.” – Sophie Castell, Chief Executive, Myeloma UK
At Sanofi, we are committed to increasing awareness of this disease and continuing our research in myeloma to help improve patient outcomes. We recognise that progress needs to be made across the board and that particular focus needs to be placed on addressing the inequalities that currently exist in this population.
See the infographic linked below to find out more on why this health inequality exists and how we can work to address and reduce this inequality.
Data on file. Sanofi UK market research. March 2021.
Cancer Research UK, Cancer Statistics, Myeloma, Survival. Accessible at https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/myeloma#heading-Two (Accessed June 2022)
NHS website. (2018) Multiple myeloma overview. Accessible at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-myeloma/ Accessed June 2022)
Myeloma UK. Multiple myeloma symptoms and complications. Accessible at https://myeloma.org.uk/understanding-myeloma/symptoms-and-complications/ (Accessed June 2022)
The Basil Skyers Myeloma Foundation (2015), Listen Up! Multiple Myeloma in Black Communities: An Unequal Risk Burden. Accessible at https://lakehealthandwellbeing.com/new/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Listen-Up-Report.pdf (Accessed June 2022)
Job bag number: MAT-XU-2201726 (v1.0)
Date of Preparation: June 2022