Multiple Myeloma: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    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.

Medically Reviewed on 7/2/2018

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

Causes of multiple myeloma

The cause of multiple myeloma is not known. For many, there is thought to be a premalignant stage whereby plasma cells in the bone marrow produce a seemingly benign, single type of antibody for years. This is called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, or MGUS. After 50 years of age, MGUS is present in over 3% of the population. In those with MGUS, myeloma or another cancer develops at a rate of 1% per year.


Attal, Michel, et al. "Lenalidomide, Bortezomib, and Dexamethasone With Transplantation for Myeloma." N Engl J Med 376 Apr. 6, 2017: 1311-1320.

Rajkumar, S. Vincent. "Patient Information: Multiple myeloma symptoms, diagnosis, and staging (Beyond the Basics)." June 2018. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/2/2018

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