The role of complete response in multiple myeloma
In multiple myeloma (MM), the impact of complete response (CR) could be shown only after introduction of high-dose therapy plus autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). In the context of ASCT, achieving CR (negative immunofixation and normal bone marrow) or at least very good partial response is associated with longer progression-free survival and in most studies longer survival. With novel agents, high CR rates are achieved and this prognostic impact of CR is being shown as well, both in relapsed and in newly diagnosed MM. However the benefit of CR achievement depends on the type of treatment and is not identical for all patients. In elderly patients, treatments inducing more CR may be more toxic. Although CR achievement is necessary in patients with poor-risk disease, it might not be as critical for long survival in more indolent MM. CR achievement is not the only objective of treatment because it is possible to further improve the depth of response and the outcome by continuing treatment after CR achievement. Finally, there are several levels of CR and in the future it will be necessary to confirm the prognostic impact of immunophenotypic or molecular CR or of CR defined by imaging procedures.
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