Skip to content

Leukemia & Lymphoma

Font Size
A
A
A

Multiple Myeloma

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that affects plasma cells, a kind of white blood cell found in the soft insides of your bones, called marrow. Plasma cells are part of your body's immune system. They make antibodies to help fight off infections.

There is no cure for multiple myeloma, but treatment can often help you feel better and live longer. To make the best possible choices about your treatment and care, you'll want to learn as much as you can about the disease.

Recommended Related to Cancer

What is prevention?

Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by cancer. To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk factors and protective factors. Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective...

Read the What is prevention? article > >

With this cancer, your plasma cells multiply and grow out of control. They crowd out healthy cells, including red and white blood cells and those that keep bones strong.

Over time, plasma cells spill out of your bone marrow and travel to other parts of your body, which can damage your organs.

The disease can weaken your immune system, lead to anemia, and cause kidney and bone problems.

You may not notice any symptoms until the cancer is advanced, meaning it has spread inside your body.

Getting this kind of diagnosis is hard for you and the people in your life. It's important that you and your family get support to manage this disease.

Causes

Scientists don't know exactly what causes multiple myeloma. In some people, it may be brought on by changes (mutations) in genes that control how cells grow.

You may be more likely to get this cancer if you are:

Your chances go up if you have other family members with multiple myeloma.

Other conditions can play a role, too. The diseases MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance) and solitary plasmacytoma also affect plasma cells. People with these conditions need to watch for multiple myeloma.

Symptoms

You may not have any symptoms at first. As this cancer develops and plasma cells build up, though, you might have:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

stem cells
What are they and why do we need them?
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
 
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
New Treatments For Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
FEATURE
 
Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
 

WebMD Special Sections