What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of bone marrow plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of blood cell whose main function is to make antibodies to fight infections.

In myeloma, abnormal plasma cells ("myeloma cells") grow uncontrollably and produce excess amounts of proteins ("M-proteins").

The uncontrolled growth of myeloma cells leads to less room for healthy blood cells as the myeloma overtakes the bone marrow space. The myeloma cells can also cause tumors in the bone marrow that destroy bone leading to fractures and high levels of calcium in the blood.

The M-proteins made by the myeloma cells can cause kidney damage.

Symptoms of Myeloma

Sometimes myeloma does not cause symptoms and is found incidentally. Some symptoms of myeloma include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Weakness, dizziness
  • Low white blood cells (leukopenia)
  • Frequent infections
  • Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
  • Frequent bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Numbness in legs
  • Weight loss/ loss of appetite
  • Leg swelling
  • Fever
  • Infections

Other Names and Conditions for Multiple Myeloma

  • Myeloma
  • Plasma Cell Myeloma
  • Amyloidosis
  • Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS)
  • Plasma Cell Leukemia