What is the cause
of multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system and starts in specific white blood cells called plasma cells. These cells are found mostly in bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system because they produce a number of antibodies used by our bodies to fight infection.
Damage to the DNA can turn plasma cells into cancerous cells known as myeloma cells. Over a period of time, these myeloma cells multiply and spread through the bone marrow. Instead of producing normal antibodies, they produce large numbers of a single antibody referred to as monoclonal proteins or M-proteins. However, this antibody has no function in the human body. This eventually leads to the symptoms associated with multiple myeloma.
The actual cause of multiple myeloma is not yet fully understood. Today, it is thought that environmental factors and changes in genetic material play a role.
Who gets multiple
Multiple myeloma is the third most common type of blood cancer in the United States. There are approximately 180,000 people living with this illness.
Facts about multiple myeloma:
- It is normally diagnosed at an advanced age (over 65 years)
- Men are more likely than women to get multiple myeloma
- People of African American descent have twice the risk due to recently identified cytogenetic differences
The good news is that tremendous advances have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma in recent years. Over the last 20 years, intensive research has led to the development of several new types of medication. Ten years ago, there were only 3 innovative active substances available for treating multiple myeloma. Today, more than double this number are available. The percentage of people who survive for 5 years or longer has nearly doubled since 1990.
Signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma
Patients with multiple myeloma may experience a number of different signs and symptoms that can vary greatly from person to person. At the time of diagnosis, most patients are already experiencing severe bone pain.
Your doctor may suspect you have multiple myeloma based on medical history and signs and symptoms such as:
- Kidney failure
- Easy bruising or bleeding
The impact of multiple myeloma:
Emotional support can help
Along with facing physical symptoms, living with multiple myeloma can also mean navigating emotional ups and downs, so you may want to reach out for additional types of support.
You can also register here for special information featuring insightful approaches to supporting emotional wellness designed for those living with multiple myeloma.