Multiple myeloma, also known as myeloma or plasma cell myeloma, is a hematological cancer, meaning it develops in the blood. Multiple myeloma is the second most common cancer of the blood. About 60,000 people have this disease and 20,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. The peak age of disease onset is 65 years of age, but recent statistics indicate the disease is becoming more prevalent and that people are getting the disease at younger ages.
In multiple myeloma, the body produces too many plasma or myeloma cells. These cells produce antibodies that the body doesn’t need, which can form tumors and cause other problems, such as bone fractures and kidney failure.
Symptoms of multiple myeloma depend on how advanced the disease has become. In the earliest stages, a person may not have any symptoms.
When symptoms do occur, patients commonly experience:
- Bone pain (often in the back or ribs)
- Broken bones
- Weight loss
- Repeated infections