Previous research has established that myeloma is the second most commonly occurring type of hematological cancer, with multiple myeloma being the most advanced and aggressive form. In a recent publication in Scientific Reports, utilizing data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database between 2000 and 2020 in the United States, authors sought to report the trends related to the incidence of myeloma by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and histological subgroups over the past 2 decades. The authors also explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall incidence trends associated with myeloma.

The authors wrote, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first U.S. population–based study that utilized a large data integrated in the SEER program, focusing on different subtypes of myeloma to perform a comprehensive analysis of the epidemiological trends of myeloma within 2000-2020.”

The results revealed that between 2000 and 2020, a total of 217,049 cases of myeloma were reported. The majority of cases occurred in males (54.85%), aged ≥55 years (85.64%), living in urban areas (88.45%), with an average income between $50,000 and $65,000 per year.

Comparable with the overall findings, the 204,872 new myeloma cases reported from 2000 to 2019 were most commonly older individuals, non-Hispanic whites, and males. The incidence of myeloma demonstrated an average annual percent change (AAPC) increase of 1.19% for men and 1.11% for women over that period, with higher increases among both genders of non-Hispanic African American patients by 1.55% to 1.64%.

The results also revealed that across all races/ethnicities, AAPC rise surpassed 2% in women aged younger than 55 years, with the most significant increase being among Hispanic women (2.27%), followed closely by African American women (2.22%), and then Caucasian women (2.18%). Additionally, among younger men, the highest increase in incidence occurred among African American males, reported as 1.55%.

The authors wrote, “The concerning rise in the incidence rate of myeloma among younger women, specifically among young women of Hispanic ethnicity, should be carefully acknowledged when formulating public health strategies to address these worrisome patterns.”

The results also revealed that during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (from 2019 to November 2020), the AAPC of myeloma incidence exhibited a noteworthy drop by 8.28% in women and 7.66% in men (this decrease was most apparent in the older age group), and the sharpest decline—by 15.94%—was observed in older Hispanic women.

The authors wrote, “Notably, male Hispanics were the only group who were not affected by the pandemic in any of the age groups.” Additionally, the researchers said, “Supporting these observations, a recent umbrella review identified a substantial decrease in screening and diagnosis of several cancers during the pandemic, which was more remarkable in regions that implemented a lockdown strategy.”

The researchers also noted, “The delay in treatment and changes in treatment pattern may also cause the pandemic to leave a mark on the survival of myeloma patients in the subsequent years.”

Based on their findings, the authors concluded that between 2000 and 2019, the incidence of myeloma increased in both genders with a significant rate of increase, especially among younger Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women. The authors wrote, “The findings of our study also underscore the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the reported incidence rate of myeloma in 2020 across most races/ethnicities, particularly in older ages.”

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