Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer located in the bone marrow. The disease causes the accumulation of malignant cells which erode the solid parts of the bone, causing lesions or soft spots. This is particularly dangerous, as it increases the risk of fractures due to the weakened bones. This condition is further exacerbated by the production of abnormal proteins, which can cause complications to the kidney. According to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, this type of cancer is the second-most common type of blood cancer. The average age of diagnosis for this condition is 65 to 70 years. When multiple tumors of this type of cancer are found, it is referred to as multiple myeloma.
Multiple Myeloma Symptoms
Because multiple myeloma affects the bones, kidney, and blood, there are a variety of symptoms.
- Low red blood cell count (anemia)
- Hypercalcemia (higher levels of calcium in the blood)
- Bone symptoms and fractures. Many individuals cite bone pain in their back or chest, as well as arms and legs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Thickened blood
Multiple Myeloma Causes
Doctors are not sure what causes multiple myeloma. Exposure to radiation, herbicides, and insecticides may play a role. There is also evidence to suggest that the cancer may start growing in the body with a single abnormal cell located in the bone marrow.
Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis
Doctors can confirm the presence of myeloma cells if three conditions are met: at least 10% of the bone marrow consists of plasma cells, the presence of “M” proteins in blood or urine, and damage to the body such as kidney damage or bone lesions. Since no single test can provide all these answers, doctors may employ a variety of methods to make a diagnosis.
- Blood test
- Urine test
- X-rays, MRIs and PET Scans
Multiple Myeloma Treatment
Various treatments are available to deal with multiple myeloma.