This booklet provides information about myeloma for patients and their families. A brief description of normal blood and marrow is provided for background, followed by a detailed description of myeloma and its treatment. The booklet includes a glossary to help readers understand medical terms.
Another feature of myeloma cells is that they secrete a type of chemical called a "cytokine," which stimulates other cells that then dissolve bone. Myeloma cells also secrete other chemicals that can hinder new bone formation. Bone is remodeled continuously. This remodeling is a coordinated effect of cells that dissolve bone (osteoclasts) and cells that lay down new bone (osteoblasts). The chemicals secreted by plasma cells stimulate the bone-dissolving cells into overactivity. The bone-forming cells cannot keep up. Holes (lytic spots) develop in the bone. Bone is thinned (osteoporosis) and can be weakened enough to break (fracture) during everyday activities such as walking, lifting or sneezing.