An Inside Look at Multiple Myeloma

Hide Video Transcript

Video Transcript

Multiple myeloma is a kind of blood cancer that starts in plasma cells. Inside most of your bones is a soft, spongy tissue called bone marrow. Here, your body makes hundreds of thousands of red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells every day.

Plasma cells, a type of white blood cell, help keep you healthy by making antibodies, proteins that fight infection. Sometimes, healthy plasma cells can become cancerous myeloma cells and multiply out of control. Instead of producing helpful antibodies, the cancerous plasma cells make abnormal proteins that build up in your body and harm your kidneys.

Myeloma cells crowd out normal blood cells, lowering your red blood cell count, causing anemia and fatigue. Without treatment, these cells continue to grow and can cause serious complications in many parts of your body. With fewer healthy plasma cells to make antibodies, your immune system can't fight off infections the way it should. And as myeloma cells continue to build up in the marrow, they weaken your bones, causing pain and fractures.

Treatments for multiple myeloma target the cancer cells as well as the symptoms.