Multiple Myeloma (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Multiple myeloma facts
- What is multiple myeloma? What are plasma cells?
- What causes multiple myeloma?
- What are risk factors for multiple myeloma? Is multiple myeloma hereditary?
- What are multiple myeloma symptoms and signs?
- What tests do health care professionals use to make a diagnosis of multiple myeloma?
- What types of health care professionals treat multiple myeloma?
- What are the stages of multiple myeloma?
- What is the medical treatment for multiple myeloma?
- What are lifestyle and diet tips for people with multiple myeloma?
- What is the prognosis for multiple myeloma? What is the survival rate for multiple myeloma?
- Is it possible to prevent multiple myeloma?
- What support systems are available for multiple myeloma?
- What is the latest research on multiple myeloma?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What are risk factors for multiple myeloma? Is multiple myeloma hereditary?
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 so it is not considered to be a hereditary disease. 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 two to 19 years after MGUS diagnosis. In addition, smoldering multiple myeloma (also termed inactive) is an early precursor to multiple myeloma. Abnormal proteins in blood or urine are detectable with special testing before multiple myeloma symptoms occur.
What are multiple myeloma symptoms and signs?
Patients with myeloma may be found asymptomatic with an unexplained increase in protein in the blood. With more advanced disease, some myeloma patients may present with weakness due to anemia caused by inadequate production of red blood cells, with bone pain due to the aforementioned bone damage, and as the abnormal M protein can accumulate in and damage the kidneys thereby resulting in a patient being found to have otherwise unexplained kidney damage and decreased kidney function.
The following is a list symptoms and signs of multiple myeloma:
- Nerve damage
- Skin lesions (rash)
- Enlarged tongue (macroglossia)
- Bone tenderness or pain, including back pain
- Weakness, fatigue or tiredness
- Pathologic bone fractures
- Back pain
- Spinal cord compression
- Kidney failure and/or damage
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Leg swelling
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