Multiple myeloma

Skin | Oncology | Multiple myeloma (Disease)


Multiple myeloma is a cancer of your plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help you fight infections.

In multiple myeloma, a group of plasma cells (myeloma cells) becomes cancerous and multiplies, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Since these cells normally make proteins (antibodies), the level of abnormal proteins in your blood also may go up. Health problems caused by multiple myeloma can affect your bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.

Causes and Risk factors

No one knows the exact causes of multiple myeloma. Sometimes doctors indentify why one person develops this disease and another doesnt. However, it is known that multiple myeloma isnt contagious.

Some factors that may increase your risk of multiple myeloma include: age (the majority of people who develop multiple myeloma are older than 50), sex (men are more likely to develop the disease than are women), race (blacks are about twice as likely to develop multiple myeloma as are whites), history of a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance), obesity.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Lab and imaging tests are performed to determine the extent of the cancer. A bone marrow biopsy will be performed to confirm the diagnosis. A special blood test called a serum protein electrophoresis may be done to detect the high levels of antibodies in the blood.

Treatment may consist of blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, steroids, and a stem cell transplant. ...