In remission

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The three Rs: Remission, Relapse, Refractory

Myeloma is what is known as a relapsing-remitting cancer. That means it alternates between periods of:

Remission: stable disease that is controlled by treatment
Relapse: symptoms and/or complications that need to be treated
Refractory: When myeloma does not respond to treatment

What does remission mean?

Remission is the complete or partial disappearance of the signs and symptoms of myeloma.
It can be classified three ways:


complete remission


partial remission


very good partial remission

When reading about multiple myeloma — and more particularly about research — you’re likely to come across terms like “complete response” (CR) or “partial response” (PR). Please be aware that different studies may apply different definitions to the same terms.

Unfortunately, despite achieving a complete response, the vast majority of patients relapse because of the persistence of residual myeloma cells — so-called minimal residual disease (MRD). MRD is the term used to describe the myeloma cells that remain in the bone marrow after treatment. They are present at such low levels that they cannot be detected by traditional blood or bone marrow testing.

MRD is potentially a very important measurement to determine exactly how well treatment has worked. However, more sensitive and standardized tests are needed before it can become a routine clinical measurement.

Response category acronyms used by the International Myeloma Working Group
sCRstringent Complete Response
CRComplete Response
VGPRVery Good Partial Response
PRPartial Response
SDStable Disease
PDProgressive Disease

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Learn more about the role of maintenance therapy in prolonging remission after a stem cell transplant in this Myeloma Canada InfoVideo.

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You may feel better during remission than you have in a while.

Eating well, getting exercise, taking care of your emotional health, learning to relax, and coping with the effects and the stress associated with illness are important to maintaining wellness.