African Americans & Multiple Myeloma: Why Are We At Higher Risk?

multiple myeloma facebookWe know that prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer disproportionately affect African Americans, but there is a lesser discussed cancer that also affects us more: multiple myeloma (MM). Multiple myeloma, a cancer  caused by malignant cells that spread throughout the bone marrow, is the 14th most common cancer in the United States and kills more than 10,000 Americans each year. African Americans are twice as likely to develop MM compared to Whites and the latest research indicates a genetic link.

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A new study from the Mayo Clinic published in the journal Leukemia (Feb. 21) found that Blacks are more likely to have a a precursor blood disorder, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Blacks in the study were also more likely to have proteins in their blood linked with a greater risk of progressing from MGUS to multiple myeloma.

“We have known for a long time that there is a marked racial disparity in multiple myeloma, but the big question has been why that disparity exists,” says the study’s senior author, Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., a hematologist/oncologist at Mayo Clinic.

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