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Research: Rising incidence of multiple myeloma, particularly in older males from high-income nations

Multiple myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia are the three major types of haematological malignancies. In Hong Kong, multiple myeloma is the third most common among them. According to Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority, there were 320 new cases of multiple myeloma in 2019, an increase of about 40% compared with a decade ago. CU Medicine has conducted a study with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) to investigate the global distribution, risk factors and epidemiological trends of multiple myeloma.

The results showed that the incidence of multiple myeloma was higher in high-income jurisdictions, especially among older males, and was closely related to the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita levels, the human development index (HDI) as well as the prevalence of physical inactivity, overweight and obesity rates, and diabetes.

Details of the study have been published recently in the top international medical journal The Lancet Haematology.

Dr Huang Jun-jie, first author of the study and Post-Doctoral Fellow from The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CU Medicine, said, “The incidence and mortality of multiple myeloma vary by region, which may be related to detection and diagnosis ability, environmental and lifestyle factors, and the prevalence of metabolic diseases in each place. Our study provides the most up-to-date evidence on the global distribution, risk factors and trends of multiple myeloma. Future studies should explore the reasons behind these epidemiological transitions, so that they can provide insights on the cause and prognosis.”

Professor Martin Wong Chi-sang, the senior corresponding author of the study, from The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CU Medicine, added, “The overall incidence of multiple myeloma has been on the rise in recent years, but it is encouraging that the mortality rate has declined because of advances in and increased accessibility of treatment. This study also shows that the prevalence of physical inactivity, excess weight, obesity and diabetes are important drivers of the increase. Policy makers in different regions should implement evidence-based, targeted prevention strategies to control relevant risk factors.”

Details: Faculty of Medicine, CUHK:

Full article of the study:

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