Plasma cells are a special type of white blood cell. Plasma cells make antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that are part of your body's natural defenses against infections and cancer. Antibodies find and attack foreign cells.
Bone marrow is in the center of your bones. Most of the cells in your blood are made in your bone marrow. The different blood cells all develop from what's called a stem cell.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. One of your plasma cells multiplies out of control in your bone marrow and makes many copies of itself.
Multiple myeloma often causes bone pain, fractures, and kidney failure
The average age of people with multiple myeloma is about 65
Doctors do blood and urine tests and a bone marrow biopsy (remove a sample of the bone marrow to look at under a microscope) to diagnose multiple myeloma
Doctors usually treat the cancer with chemotherapy, corticosteroids, and sometimes a stem cell transplant
The cancerous plasma cells:
Bone invasion makes your bones hurt and more likely to break.
When the abnormal cells take over your bone marrow, you don't make enough normal blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, you get anemia Overview of Anemia Anemia is not having enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all of your other organs. Hemoglobin is the substance inside your red blood cells that... read more (low blood count). Without enough healthy white cells, you're at risk for infections. Without enough platelets, you may have excessive bleeding.
The extra antibody made by the cancerous plasma cells is abnormal and doesn't help protect you from infection. However, it can clog up your kidneys and give you kidney failure.
The most common symptom is:
You may have other symptoms from complications:
Doctors will do:
If these tests show you might have multiple myeloma, doctors will do:
Doctors will treat you to help slow the cancer’s growth and relieve your symptoms. They can’t cure multiple myeloma, but you may survive for a long time.
Doctors may give you:
Sometimes doctors do a stem cell transplant Stem Cell Transplantation Stem cell transplantation is the removal of stem cells (undifferentiated cells) from a healthy person and their injection into someone who has a serious blood disorder. (See also Overview of... read more .
Doctors are doing fewer stem cell transplants because the newer drugs for multiple myeloma work fairly well.