Multiple Myeloma

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is cancer that begins in the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. Plasma cells make proteins that help the body fight disease by producing antibodies. Multiple myeloma starts when plasma cells become abnormal and alike, called myeloma cells. These the cells overproduce, forming a mass or tumor that is located in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than producing helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause kidney problems. 
Risk factors
  • Increasing age
  • Male sex
  • Being African-American
  • History of a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
Diagnosis of multiple myeloma include:
  • Blood and urine tests are used to look for proteins or other substances that are more likely to be seen in the blood or urine of people with myeloma. 
  • Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. A procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests may be recommended to detect bone problems associated with multiple myeloma. Tests may include X-ray, MRI, CT or positron emission tomography (PET).
Treatment options are based on an individual’s severity of the condition. There are many treatment options for multiple myeloma including, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. 
In the United States in 2013 (the most recent year for which numbers are available)—
  • 22,562 Americans were diagnosed with myeloma, and 11,801 died from it.
  • Among men, black men had the highest rate of getting myeloma (15.0 per 100,000 men), followed by Hispanic men (7.5), white men (7.1), American Indian/Alaska Native men (5.3), and Asian/Pacific Islander men (4.7).
  • Among women, black women had the highest rate of getting myeloma (11.3), followed by Hispanic women (4.9), white women (4.4), American Indian/Alaska Native women (3.5), and Asian/Pacific Islander women (2.9).
about multiple myeloma

  • "Multiple Myeloma." Multiple Myeloma | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Multiple Myeloma." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 04 Dec. 2015. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Multiple Myeloma." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Multiple Myeloma." Stanford Medical Center. Stanford Health Care, 13 July 2016. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Myeloma." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 01 May 2017.


Right now, only 66% of African American patients fighting blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma can find a donor match to give them a second chance at life.
african american bone marrow awareness month


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