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Why is multiple myeloma often diagnosed late in Black patients?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2022 | Accidents & Incidents

Illinois residents rightfully expect to get a diagnosis of any medical conditions they develop. Black patients are more likely to have multiple myeloma and get a delayed diagnosis, however.

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a rare type of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells, which are found in the bone marrow. When people have this condition, their body develops monoclonal immunoglobulin, an antibody that damages the cells in the blood, bones and other organs. Black people are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than individuals of other races.

Why does multiple myeloma affect Black people more?

There are various reasons why multiple myeloma affects Black people more than other groups. According to research, genetic differences can raise the risk of the disease developing. People of African descent are more susceptible due to potential high risk gene variants. Those in the highest genetic risk category are 80% more likely to develop multiple myeloma.

However, in addition to genetic risk factors, there are other risks associated with the disease. These factors can also result in a delayed misdiagnosis of multiple myeloma in Black patients. They include the following:

• Lack of access to health insurance

• Lower income and educational levels

• Lower work status

• Poor living conditions and exposure to toxins

• Certain lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking

• Lack of physical activity and health status

Sadly, Black people can be disproportionately affected by the disease as a result of all these factors. That and a delayed diagnosis also increase the risk of fatalities. Black patients are two times more likely than white patients to die of the disease.

The condition is also difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Once a person is diagnosed with multiple myeloma in later stages, it’s harder to treat because the cancer has spread by then.