Multiple Myeloma

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of certain cells of the bone marrow called plasma cells. Multiple myeloma is a form of bone marrow cancer. Plasma cells normally produce our antibodies. Multiple myeloma features abnormal proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow, destructive bone lesions, and the production of abnormal proteins, specifically antibodies. Multiple myeloma is also referred to as myeloma.

Multiple myeloma causes a host of organ problems and symptoms. Common symptoms of multiple myeloma include:

  • fatigue,
  • bone pain,
  • bone fracture,
  • susceptibility to infection,
  • kidney failure.

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Multiple myeloma facts

  • Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
  • The cause of multiple myeloma is not known.
  • Risk factors for multiple myeloma have not been established although researchers have suggested genetic abnormalities, such as c-Myc genes or environmental exposures, may play a role.
  • Symptoms and signs of multiple myeloma include
  • Multiple myeloma is diagnosed with a bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. Other tests include blood monoclonal immunoglobulin and radiology tests to determine the extent of bone lesions.
  • Although there are several staging systems, stages I, II, and III usually represent multiple myeloma with increasing severity of disease.
  • Treatment for multiple myeloma includes drugs that modulate the immune system, chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants and, in some patients, surgery.
  • Although the patient's primary care physician is involved in organizing treatments, specialists who treat multiple myeloma include oncologists, hematologists, radiologists, experts in stem cell transplantation and orthopedic and/or spine surgeons.
  • The prognosis for myeloma is only fair. Median survival is about three years, but some patients have a life expectancy of 10 years.
  • The International Myeloma Foundation can provide further support for myeloma patients.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2017

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