Increased Rates of Viral Infections in Multiple Myeloma

Heinz Ludwig, MD, discusses the incidence of increased infections in patients with multiple myeloma.

Heinz Ludwig, MD, professor of internal medicine and hematology-oncology at Wilhelminen Cancer Research Institute, Wilhelminenspital in Vienna, Austria, discusses the incidence of increased infections in patients with multiple myeloma.

Patients with multiple myeloma are at increased risk to develop infections due to its significant impact on one's immune system. In a study, Ludwig et al discovered that about 56% of patients had 1 or more infectious episodes prior to their diagnosis due to the innate immune system.

According to Ludwig, a majority of the viral infections which occur in patients with multiple myeloma are in the upper respiratory tract and primarily consist of viral infections. However, infections of the bloodstream, urinary tract infections and those caused by bacteria are also common.


0:08 | We did a study, which showed that myeloma patients, about 56% of patients, had already 1 or more infectious episodes in the year before the diagnosis was established. Patients are at increased risk and the increased risk is already affecting about half of patients before any treatment has been initiated. The disease itself is immunosuppressive, it has a significant impact on what we call the innate immune system.

0:54 | Then when patients are treated, they are the complications of inside effects of therapy. Usually when they are treated, there's more disease which motivates people to start therapy. In addition, there is a gender difference. Male myeloma patients are at a 20% higher risk of infections compared to females. As you know, male patients have slightly poorer survival expectancy compared to female patients.