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Home > Cancers We Treat > Hematologic Cancer > Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma

Definition

Multiple myeloma is a rare cancer of the bone marrow. It results from the abnormal growth of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells normally produce antibodies. As these abnormal or malignant plasma cells multiply, they produce large quantities of abnormal antibodies. These abnormal antibodies collect in the blood and urine. As the plasma cell tumor grows, it also destroys the bone around it. These events lead to bone pain, kidney damage, and a weak immune system.

The left image shows a human adult skeletal system and depicts areas of the skeleton that contain bone marrow. The right image shows a close-up of bone marrow.
Bone Marrow in Adult
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk

Risk factors that increase your chance of getting multiple myeloma include:

  • Age: 50 or older
  • Race: black

Symptoms

Symptoms of early stage multiple myeloma include:

  • Persistent bone pain, often severe. It is most common in the back but also in the limbs or ribs.
  • Fatigue

When the disease progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Broken bones
  • Repeat infections
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Headache
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion

Diagnosis

Your doctor may need pictures of your bones. This can be done with:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Positron emission tomography/computed tomography scan (PET/CT scan)

Your doctor may order tests of your body fluids and tissues. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy

Treatment

Options include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunomodulating Agents
  • Corticosteroids
  • Proteasome Inhibitor
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Biologic Therapies
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Surgery
  • Peripheral Stem Cell Transplant
  • Plasmapheresis

Prevention

There are no guidelines to prevent multiple myeloma. The cause is not known.

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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