Myeloma is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. Specifically, it affects the plasma cells. Plasma cells create antibodies. These antibodies help a patient’s body find germs and fight off infection.
Myeloma occurs when unhealthy or cancer cells gather in bone marrow. These cancer cells overcrowd the normal blood cells. The cancer cells cannot make normal antibodies, instead they make irregular proteins. These irregular proteins can cause problems in the body.
In 2018, the estimated number of new myeloma cases of 30,770 in the US. In the US, 50.7% of patients survive after 5 Years or more of being diagnosed with myeloma. This means out of 100 patients with myeloma, about 50 patients have survived the disease for 5 years or more.
Factors that can increase your chances of having myeloma include:
The signs and symptoms myeloma can be different for every person. There may not be signs early on for patients with myeloma. When and if there are symptoms, a patient might experience bone aches, nausea, constipation, a loss of appetite/hunger, foggy thoughts or confusion, fatigue, repeated infections, patients may feel more thirsty than usual, patients may lose weight, legs may feel weak or numb.
There are several tests that can help diagnosis myeloma. Some of these tests may be conducted by your provider if they suspect Myeloma. Your doctor may find myeloma by coincidence with some routine tests. These tests include:
Before a transplant there are a few steps that are taken. Progenitor or Stem blood cells are collected. Chemotherapy is then used to kill off the sickly bone marrow cells. The healthy stem cells are then injected back into the body and help to recreate healthy bone marrow cells.
“Cancer Stat Facts: Myeloma.” National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, 2019, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/mulmy.html
“Multiple-Myeloma.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-myeloma/symptoms-causes/syc-20353378 .
Web links about Myleloma:
Patient education: Multiple myeloma symptoms, diagnosis, and staging (Beyond the Basics)
Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma)—Patient Version
What Is Multiple Myeloma?