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Multiple myeloma


What is multiple myeloma?

Myeloma occurs when plasma cells (white blood cells) in the bone marrow grow and divide in an abnormal, uncontrolled way, reducing the bodies ability to produce normal blood cells. Multiple myeloma is when patients have multpile bone lesions at the time of diagnosis, which occurs in approximately 90% of cases.

You can access further information about multiple myeloma, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment from Cancer Council Victoria. You can also call our trusted cancer nurses on 13 11 20 for support and to learn about our range of services for people affected by cancer.

The Victorian Cancer Registry also operates an interactive web portal, Data Explorer, which provides more trends and statistics than published here.

How common is multiple myeloma?

The median age at diagnosis of bladder cancer is 71 years in males and 72 in females (Figure 1 & 2). Accounting for 1.8% of all cancers diagnosed and 2% of all cancer-related deaths in 2020, bladder cancer was the 16th most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 17th most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Victoria in 2020.


Figure 1: Distribution of multiple myeloma incidence in 2020, by sex within age groups

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Figure 2: Distribution of multiple myeloma incidence in 2020, compared to the distribution of the Victorian population in 2020, by 5-year age brackets

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

Geographical variance in multiple myeloma by local government area

Figure 4 demonstrates variation in age-standardised incidence rates of multiple myeloma, by local government areas. Darker shading indicates areas with higher rates of multiple myeloma.


Figure 4: Variation in the incidence of multiple myeloma for the period 2016-2020, by location of residence in Victoria

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Multiple myeloma in people born overseas

Figure 5 shows the age standardised incidence rates of multiple myeloma in Australian-born Victorians compared to other major migrant groups, over the five-year period 2016 to 2020. The highest age standardised incidence rate for mutlipe myeloma was 5.6 for males born in the Australia and New Zealand region and the lowest rate of 2.9 was observed in males born in the South-East Asia region. The highest age standardised incidence rate for multiple myeloma was 3.9 for females born in the Africa region and the lowest rate of 1.2 was observed in females born in the North-East Asia region.


Figure 5: Age standardised incidence rates and 95% confidence intervals for multiple myeloma in Victorians born in Australia compared to Victorians born in other countries for the period 2016-2020, by sex

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)



Multiple myeloma five-year relative survival

Figure 6 shows the change in 5-year survival for multiple myeloma, and the 5-year survival trend for all cancers over the same time period. It demonstrates that five-year relative survival has increased for multiple myeloma between 1985-1989 and 2015-2019 from 26% to 61%.

Figure 6: Trend in five year relative survival following diagnosis of multiple myeloma in five year brackets, from the period 1985-1989 to 2015-2019

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

This webpage was last updated in May 2022