What is Multiple Myeloma and What Causes it? (Definition)

Multiple Myeloma is a form of cancer created by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs. When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they can produce a tumor called a plasmacytoma. These types of tumors generally develop in a bone, but they are also sometimes found in other tissues.  According to the American Cancer Society, if someone has only a single plasma cell tumor, the disease is called an isolated (or solitary) plasmacytoma. If someone has more than one plasmacytoma, they have multiple myeloma. Essentially, multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause problems.

Doctors diagnose multiple myeloma using lab tests, imaging tests, and a bone marrow biopsy. Course of treatment depends on how advanced the disease is and whether you have symptoms. Treatment for multiple myeloma isn’t always necessary. If you’re not experiencing signs and symptoms, you may not require any initial treatment. If signs and symptoms do develop, there a number of treatments such as chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, radiation, or targeted therapy which can help you control this form of cancer.

In the U.S., multiple myeloma accounts for less than 2% of all cancers and approximately 30,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

Diagnosing multiple myeloma in its early stages can be difficult. Often, multiple myeloma causes no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. Sometimes, the disease may cause vague or mild symptoms that may seem similar to other diseases. The earliest stage of the disease is referred to as smoldering multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma can sometimes be found early when a routine blood test shows an abnormally high amount of protein in the blood. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person. The condition becomes most noticeable as myeloma cells begin to damage your bones, blood circulation and kidneys.

When signs and symptoms do occur, they can include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, constipation, mental fogginess or confusion, frequent infections, excessive thirst, weight loss, numbness or weakness in legs, and bone pain, particularly in your spine or chest.

If you are experiencing symptoms of multiple myeloma or think you may be at risk, talk to your doctor.

For more information, please visit the American Cancer Society website.

See below for updated news and information regarding Multiple Myeloma including new medical research, treatment options and advancements. 

Latest Multiple Myeloma News

Leukemia – Multiple Myeloma Research News: AGGRESSIVE FORM OF LEUKEMIA LINKED TO DEFECTIVE ‘PROTEIN FACTORY’

(SOURCE: KU LEUVEN) - Twenty to forty percent of the patients with the type of leukaemia known as multiple myeloma have a defect in the 'protein factory' of the cell: the ribosome. These patients have a poorer prognosis than patients with intact ribosomes. At the same time, they respond better to a drug that already exists. These are the findings of a study by the ...
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Multiple Myeloma Research News: Early treatment may prevent progression to multiple myeloma

(SOURCE: DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE) - Early intervention with an immunotherapy-based drug combination may prevent progression of high-risk “smoldering” multiple myeloma to the full-blown disease, according to researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The interim results of a phase 2 clinical trial are to be presented at the 58th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego on December 5, ...
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Multiple Myeloma Research News: Additions to Standard Multiple Myeloma Therapy Do Not Appear to Yield Additional Benefit

(SOURCE: AMERICAN SOCIETY OF HEMATOLOGY) - Largest randomized trial finds second round of chemotherapy or stem cell transplant does not improve progression-free survival. Trial results being presented today during the 58th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego suggest two therapies that are often added to standard therapy in patients with multiple myeloma do not improve rates of ...
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Highlights include first results of multisite trial of CTL019 for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia and new CAR T cell therapy for multiple myeloma

(SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE) Lymphoma and Multiple Lyeloma Research News - Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) will present the latest advances from their studies of personalized cellular therapies for blood cancers during the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in ...
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Multiple Myeloma Treatment News: Mayo Clinic study shows that choice of medical center impacts life expectancy of multiple myeloma patients

(SOURCE: MAYO CLINIC) People diagnosed with multiple myeloma are more likely to live longer if they are treated at a medical center that sees many patients with this blood cancer. Mayo Clinic researchers published these findings today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Multiple myeloma is a rare form of blood cancer that attacks plasma cells – white blood cells that ...
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Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors News: Research Shows Excess Weight Increases Multiple Myeloma Risk for MGUS Patients

(WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS) According to a recent press release, new research shows that excess weight increases the risk that a benign blood disorder will progress into multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. The study, by a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute ...
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Experimental Immunotherapy Galinpepimut-S May Benefit Multiple Myeloma Patients

(Myeloma Research News) According to a recent article published Myeloma Research News, patients with high-risk multiple myeloma may benefit from an experimental immunotherapy from SELLAS Life Sciences called galinpepimut-S, following an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). The data was gathered from a Phase 2 clinical trial which shows that the agent nearly doubles the progression-free survival rates compared to historical controls who ...
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Researchers at Yale Develop Mouse Model to Better Understand Multiple Myeloma Development

(News Medical Life Sciences) According to an article recently published in News Medical Life Sciences, understanding how multiple myeloma develops and how the cancer responds to therapies could be easier using a new mouse model developed at Yale University School of Medicine. The model supports the growth of cells derived from patients with multiple myeloma or the disease's precursor states ...
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Essential Amino Acid Found to Play Key Role in Creation of Blood Stem Cells

(Scientific American) According to an article recently published in Scientific American, a team of researchers from California and Japan has found that an essential amino acid plays a crucial role in the creation of blood stem cells. This type of discovery the scientists say could offer a potential alternative to chemotherapy and radiation in treating blood cancer patients ...
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S63845 Compound a Possible Breakthrough in Blood Cancer Research

(SBS Australia) According to an article recently published on SBS, a team of international researchers at Australia's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have made a "major scientific breakthrough" in cancer research that has the potential to help millions of people with the deadly disease ...
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