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 the 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 an increased risk of developing infections due to its significant impact on the immune system. In one study, Ludwig et al found that approximately 56% of patients had 1 or more infectious episodes before their diagnosis due to the innate immune system.

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


0:08 | We did a study that showed that patients with myeloma, about 56% of patients, had already had 1 or more infectious episodes in the year preceding the establishment of the diagnosis. Patients are at increased risk and this increased risk already affects about half of patients before any treatment begins. The disease itself is immunosuppressive, it has a strong impact on what is called the innate immune system.

0:54 | Then, when patients are treated, they are complications from the internal effects of the therapy. Usually, when treated, there are more illnesses that motivate people to start therapy. Also, there is a gender difference. Men with myeloma have a 20% higher risk of infection than women. As you know, male patients have a slightly lower survival expectancy than female patients.


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