font size


Multiple Myeloma

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that is caused by malignant plasma cells that proliferate in the bone marrow and produce abnormally high amounts of a special protein. The special proteins are typically monoclonal paraprotein (M protein) and other compounds such as immunoglobulins. Plasma cells are white blood cells that make antibodies and are part of the body's immune system. Multiple myeloma plasma cell proliferation can result in etched away bone (lytic bone lesions), soft tissue masses, impaired immune system, and pain from collapsing bone and other systemic problems listed below.

What causes multiple myeloma?

What triggers plasma cells to become malignant in multiple myeloma is not known. The cancerous myeloma plasma cells proliferate and crowd out normal plasma cells and can etch away areas of bones. The proteins produced in large amounts can cause many of the symptoms of the disease by making the blood more thickened (viscous) and depositing the proteins in organs that can interfere with the functions of the kidneys, nerves, and immune system.

What are risk factors for multiple myeloma?

The definitive cause of multiple myeloma has not been established but research has suggested several factors may be risk factors or contribute to multiple myeloma development in an individual. A genetic abnormality such as c-Myc oncogenes and others have been associated with multiple myeloma development. Currently, there is no evidence that heredity plays a role in multiple myeloma development. Environmental exposures to herbicides, insecticides, benzene, hair dyes, and radiation have been suggested as causes but definitive data is lacking. Inflammation and infection have been suggested but again not proven to cause multiple myeloma. However, a "benign" proliferation of a plasma cell can result in a situation where a monoclonal antibody is produced in high amounts (but not as high as seen with multiple myeloma). This result is termed monoclonal gammopathy of unknown or undetermined significance (abbreviated as MGUS). About 19% of MGUS patients develop multiple myeloma in about 2 to 19 years after MGUS diagnosis. In addition, about 7% of multiple myeloma patients develop MGUS within a year of developing multiple myeloma (this particular form of MGUS is termed secondary MGUS). Some researchers think MGUS antibody may result from as yet undetermined sources of inflammation or infection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/17/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Multiple Myeloma - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your multiple myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma - Prognosis Question: What is the prognosis for your multiple myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma - Diagnosis Question: Describe the tests and exams that led to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
Multiple Myeloma - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment have you, a friend, or loved one received for multiple myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma - Follow-up care Question: What type of follow-up care do you or a relative receive for multiple myeloma?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/multiple_myeloma/article.htm

Cancer

Get the latest treatment options.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations