Myeloma

Myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow. It is a cancer of plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells also called plasma B cells.

White blood cells are responsible for producing antibodies that fight infection.

In myeloma, a plasma cell undergoes a malignant change caused by one or more acquired genetic mutations. These malignant cells multiply and eventually crowd out the healthy plasma cells and the normal stem cells in the bone marrow.

Myeloma

Myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow. It is a cancer of plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells also called plasma B cells.

White blood cells are responsible for producing antibodies that fight infection.

In myeloma, a plasma cell undergoes a malignant change caused by one or more acquired genetic mutations. These malignant cells multiply and eventually crowd out the healthy plasma cells and the normal stem cells in the bone marrow.

What You Should Know

  • Hematologists and oncologists are specialists who treat people who have myeloma or other types of blood cancers.
  • Treatment outcomes vary widely among patients; results depend on many individual factors.

What You Should Do

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your diagnostic tests and what the results mean.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about all your treatment options and the results you can expect from treatment.
  • Ask your healthcare provider whether a clinical trial is a good treatment option for you.

For personalized disease, treatment or support information, please contact one of our Information Specialists:

Risk Factors

Doctors don't know why some cells become myeloma cells and others don't. For most people who have myeloma, there are no obvious reasons why they developed the disease.

There are some factors that may increase the risk of developing myeloma, including:

  • Age - Most people who develop myeloma are over age 50 years. Fewer cases of myeloma occur in people younger than 40.
  • Sex - More men than women develop myeloma.
  • Race - African Americans have twice the incidence of myeloma as white Americans.
  • Medical History - People with a history of MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance).
  • Environment - Some studies are investigating a link between the development of myeloma and one or more of the following factors: radiation or exposure to certain kinds of chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers and Agent Orange.
  • Obesity - New research suggests that obese people have a higher incidence of myeloma.
  • Presence of chronic immunodeficiency
  • Presence of known inflammatory diseases or conditions (eg, cardiovascular disease or type II diabetes).

Disease Information Booklets

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society wants you to have the most up-to-date information about blood cancer treatment.

Dr. Irene Ghobrial, M.D.

Hear from a world-renowned cancer researcher about how LLS support is driving meaningful impact for myeloma patients.

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