Double vs. single high dose melphalan 200 mg/m2 and autologous stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma: a region-based study in 484 patients from the Nordic area

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Hans E. Johnsen *
Bo Björkstrand
Tobias W. Klausen
Kari Remes
Astrid Gruber
Lene M. Knudsen
Olav J. Bergmann
Stig Lenhoff
(*) Corresponding Author:
Hans E. Johnsen |


Autologous stem cell transplantation is still considered the standard of care in young patients with multiple myeloma (MM). This disease is the most common indication for high-dose therapy (HDT) supported by hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation and much data support the benefit of this procedure. Results of randomized studies are in favor of tandem autologous transplantation although the effect on overall survival is unclear. Based on sequential registration trials in the Nordic area, we aimed to evaluate the outcome of conventional single or double HDT. During 1994-2000 we registered a total of 484 previously untreated patients under the age of 60 years at diagnosis who on a regional basis initially were treated with single [Trial NMSG #5/94 and #7/98 (N=383)] or double [Trial Huddinge Karolinska Turku Herlev (N=101)] high-dose melphalan (200 mg/m2) therapy supported by autologous stem cell transplantation. A complete or very good partial response was achieved by 40% of patients in the singletransplant group and 60% of patients in the double-transplant group (p=0.0006). The probability of surviving progression-free for 5 years after the diagnosis was 25% (95% CL 18-32%) in the singletransplant group and 46% (95% CL 33-55%) in the double-transplant group (p=0.0014). The estimated overall five-year survival rate was 60% in the single-transplant group and 64% in the double-transplant (p=0.9). In a multivariate analysis of variables, including single versus double transplantation, beta2 microglobulin level, age, sex and disease stage, only beta2 microglobulin level was predictive for overall survival (p>0.0001) and progression free survival (p=0.001). In accordance with these results, a 1:1 case-control matched comparison between double and single transplantation did not identify significant differences in overall and progression free survival. In this retrospective analysis up front double transplantation with melphalan (200 mg/m2) as compared to single transplantation did not seem to improve the final outcome among patients in the Nordic area. These data are in accordance with recent publications from the Bologna 96 trial indicating that a second transplant should not be recommended up front as standard care.

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Author Biography

Hans E. Johnsen, Professor