Patients with multiple myeloma are at increased risk for early death from infection after high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT), according to the results of a study published in the American Journal of Hematology.

Although infection is a known risk for early death within two years of diagnosis in patients with multiple myeloma, researchers sought to better understand the relationship. Using data from 613 patients in the Danish Multiple Myeloma Registry, they found that 59 patients died within two years of diagnosis, and 13 of those were within 100 days of receiving ASCT.

At the time of death, 83% of patients had progressive disease. Infection was the leading cause of death (44%), but it was present in 59% of patients regardless of cause of death. Nearly half of the infections were pneumonia. 

The researchers concluded that “the combination of progressive disease and infection contributed to more than one-third of all deaths. . . . Patients with progressive disease within two years [of diagnosis] define a subgroup with unmet medical needs.”