STEP 1: Prevention and early detection

This step outlines recommendations for the prevention and early detection of Multiple myeloma.

Evidence shows that not smoking, avoiding or limiting alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active, being sun smart and avoiding exposure to oncoviruses or carcinogens may help reduce cancer risk (Cancer Council Australia 2018).

The causes of MM are not fully understood and there is currently no clear prevention strategy.

The risk factors for developing MM include:

  • Age: MM occurs mainly in older About 83 per cent of cases diagnosed with MM are aged over 60 (AIHW 2021). Very few people are diagnosed below age 40 (Bladé & Kyle 1998; Kyle et al. 2003).
  • Clinically defined MGUS: The average risk of someone with MGUS developing MM is about 1 per cent per year (Quach & Prince 2019).
  • Family history: People who have a first-degree relative with MM have a two-fold or higher increased risk of developing MM (Lynch et al. 2021); however, the absolute risk for anyone with a relative with MM is An underlying genetic cause has not been identified and there is no available screening test for genetic predisposition.
  • Ethnicity: People of black African, Maori and Pacific Islander descent are more likely to develop MM (Kyle et 2003; Marinac et al. 2020; Phillips at al. 2007; Shirley et al. 2013).
  • Gender: MM is slightly more common in males than females (AIHW 2021).
  • Weight: Increased body mass index has been associated with increased risk of MM (Islami et 2019; Kyrgiou et al. 2017; Lauby-Secretan et al. 2016).
  • Some studies have reported that exposure to radiation and chemicals is linked to increased risk of developing MM; however, published evidence has not been consistent (Bumma et 2020; Sergentanis et al. 2015; Stenehjem et al. 2015).

While there is no evidence linking lifestyle changes to reduced risk of MM, it is important to encourage people to reduce modifiable risk factors for other types of cancer and health conditions. This includes providing advice on regular screening where indicated, preventing or reducing obesity, and support to quit smoking.

Although having a first-degree relative with MM increases the risk of developing MM, no causative genes have been identified. Genetic screening is not indicated for family members of people with MM.

There is currently no established benefit to early detection of MGUS, the pre-malignant phase of MM.

There is no indication for screening for MM in the general population. But patients with MGUS or smouldering myeloma require regular monitoring to assess for possible progression to MM.

There is no national screening program for non-hereditary NETs.