Methods for estimation of bone marrow plasma cell involvement in myeloma: Predictive value for response and survival in patients undergoing autologous stem cell transplantation

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In myeloma, the bone marrow plasma cell percentage (BMPC%) is usually estimated independently on the aspirate, core biopsy, and plasma cell labeling index (PCLI) samples. This study was done to determine which of the 3 individual estimates correlates best with complete response (CR) and survival. Seventy-five consecutive patients who underwent SCT for relapsed myeloma were studied. The median BMPC% on the marrow aspirate, core biopsy, and PCLI studies were 20, 25, and 20, respectively. There was a significant correlation between the three methods, p > 0.65, P < 0.001. However, in 8% of patients the BMPC% was different by an absolute value of 50% between methods. No individual method was predictive for CR. However, the highest estimate of the BMPC% among the three methods was a significant predictor of CR (P = 0.02). Survival following SCT was longer among patients with a low BMPC% (≤ 60) by the PCLI method compared to those with higher values, median survival 23 versus 7 months, respectively, P = 0.02. PFS was also different, with survival times of 11 and 5 months, respectively, P = 0.003. Similar results were obtained when the highest estimate of the BMPC% was used in survival analysis (P = 0.02 and 0.004, respectively). Statistical significance was lower when the BMPC% on the aspirate or biopsy used in survival analysis. Compared to any individual method of estimating BMPC%, the highest estimate of the BMPC% is the best predictor of CR in myeloma. It is also prognostic for poor survival and PFS following SCT for myeloma. We recommend that all three methods of estimating BMPC% be routinely performed and that the highest value be used for prognostic purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of hematology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 13 2001



  • Bone marrow
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Plasma cell
  • Prognosis
  • Stem cell transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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