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How common is multiple myeloma?
In the United States, the lifetime risk getting multiple myeloma is about 1 in 143. In 2017, an estimated 30,300 adults (about 17,900 men and 12,430 women) will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Furthermore, it is estimated that about 12,590 deaths will occur this year due to multiple myeloma. The five-year survival rate is about 49%; the survival rate has slowly increased to this level over the past 10 years.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer the plasma cells in the bone marrow; the cause of multiple myeloma is not known but risk factors may include genetic abnormalities and/or environmental exposures such as herbicides, insecticides, benzene, hair dyes and radiation may also be involved. Malignant multiple myeloma cells produce an abnormal type protein termed a monoclonal or M protein. These cells multiply and may form plasmacytomas that eventually can erode or destroy normal bone cortex.
Common symptoms of multiple myeloma include the following:
- susceptibility to infection
- bone pain
- bone fractures
- kidney failure
- nerve damage
- enlarge tongue
- back pain
- leg swelling
- loss of appetite and/or weight loss
Multiple myeloma is diagnosed usually with a bone marrow aspiration and/or a biopsy of a lesion. Additionally, other tests may include monoclonal immunoglobulin studies and radiology tests to determine the location of bone lesions.
Treatment is usually done by specialists that may include oncologists, hematologists radiologists, experts in stem cell transplantation and/or orthopedic surgeons. Your medical team can help determine the best treatment for your individual situation; treatment may include drugs that modulate the immune system, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants and possibly surgery to stabilize bone fractures.
For more information, read our full medical article on multiple myeloma symptoms, treatment, and prognosis.
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