Multiple myeloma is the second most common hematologic malignancy, with approximately 15,000 new cases each year in the United States. Our understanding of the pathophysiology underlying myeloma continues to expand, but the cause of this plasma cell dyscrasia remains unclear. Though controversy remains regarding a possible viral cause of myeloma, evidence suggesting a role for the human herpesvirus-8 is mounting. The roles of cytogenetic abnormalities as well as aberrant angiogenesis and cytokine expression in the etiology of myeloma continue to be explored and may lead to future therapeutic strategies. Transplantation in myeloma is rarely curative but offers clinical benefit not only for young but possibly for older myeloma patients as well. Newer bisphosphonates may offer greater ease of administration, improved efficacy, and possibly even enhanced antitumor effect. Finally, thalidomide offers significant clinical benefit to patients with myeloma previously refractory to multiple agents, and its role in early stages of the disease is under investigation.
*Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, California, USA; †West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
Correspondence to James R. Berenson, MD, West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 111 H, 11301 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA