Myeloma shares some similar features and symptoms with other blood disorders, including:
- Monoclonal gammopathy
- Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM)
- Primary amyloidosis
- Heavy chain disease
- Light chain deposition disease (LCDD)
- Plasma cell leukemia (PCL)
- POEMS syndrome
This condition, also called “benign monoclonal gammopathy,” “monoclonal gammopathy of unknown or undetermined significance” (MGUS) and other names, is commonly found in older persons, and it increases in frequency in the sixth through ninth decades of life. MGUS is associated with monoclonal protein in the blood. However, an increase in plasma cells is often not apparent in the marrow, and anemia, bone damage, recurrent infections and other features of myeloma are not present. The disorder usually does not affect the well-being of the patient, although occasionally the monoclonal protein may interact with normal tissues and lead to symptoms, depending on the tissue affected. MGUS evolves into a progressive B-lymphocyte malignancy such as myeloma or lymphoma in about 30 percent of patients affected over 20 years or more of observation. Patients are usually followed with blood tests once or twice a year to determine if there is any change in the level of monoclonal protein. For more information see the free LLS fact sheet, Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) Facts.
This disease has some features in common with myeloma. It is a malignancy of B lymphocytes that produce a monoclonal immunoglobulin that can be measured in the blood. The malignant B lymphocytes replace the normal marrow cells and may cause anemia and other blood cell deficiencies by preventing the normal marrow cells from making blood cells efficiently. The monoclonal immunoglobulin produced by the malignant B lymphocyte is a very large type of IgM, referred to as “macroglobulin” (large globulin). For more information see the free LLS fact sheet, Waldenström Macroglobulinemia Facts.
Amyloidosis is a rare disorder in which there is a buildup of an abnormal protein called amyloid. Amyloid is usually produced in the bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ. These deposits can also occur in multiple organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys, causing the organ not to function properly. In some patients with myeloma, the light chains made by their plasma cells can result in the formation and deposition of amyloid. This type of amyloidosis can occur either with or without overt myeloma and is called “primary amyloidosis.” Many of the drugs that work against myeloma are also effective against amyloidosis, including corticosteroids, melphalan, Velcade, and Revlimid. In patients who are good candidates, autologous stem cell transplantation is the treatment of choice.. For more information see the free LLS fact sheet, Amyloidosis Facts.
This rare disease is associated with myeloma because both diseases have abnormal B lymphocytes that produce abnormal monoclonal immunoglobulin (M protein). Normal immunoglobulin is made up of two large pieces (called heavy chains) and two smaller pieces (called light chains). In heavy chain disease, the immunoglobulin is incomplete; only the heavy chains are produced. Otherwise, the disease has clinical features different than those of myeloma. For example, there is no bone disease.
A systemic disorder that involves the immune system, LCDD is caused by an excess buildup of immunoglobulin light chains in the tissues and organs. Light chains are an important part of the body's immune system. However, if they become trapped in the tissues of the kidneys, lungs, skin, joints or blood vessels, the light chains can set off reactions leading to tissue or organ inflammation and damage. Early signs and symptoms of light chain deposition disease may include protein in the urine, high blood pressure, decreased kidney function and nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disorder that causes the body to lose too much protein in the urine). LCDD can occur in patients who have myeloma as well as in individuals who have monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or lymph node disorders.
A rare plasma cell disease that may be primary (de novo) or secondary, evolving from an existing diagnosis of myeloma. Most cases are primary; approximately 5 percent of cases are diagnosed in patients who have myeloma. In this disorder, patients have high numbers of plasma cells circulating in the blood. The disease is treated like myeloma but frequently requires more aggressive therapy as this disease is more aggressive than myeloma.
POEMS syndrome is an uncommon marrow disorder related to myeloma. It gets its name from its five most common features: peripheral neuropathy (P), organ enlargement (O), endocrine gland dysfunction (E), monoclonal plasma cell tumors and monoclonal immunoglobulin (M) and skin changes (S). The neuropathy can be disabling, and the endocrine gland may not produce enough thyroid or sex hormone. Like myeloma, it damages the bones, but in a different way: the bone marrow appears denser instead of thinner.
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free booklet, Myeloma.