Living with Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is cancer of the cells that make plasma in bone marrow. When these abnormal plasma cells build up in the bone, they can form tumors: a single tumor is a plasmacytoma; more than one is referred to as multiple myeloma. Approximately 22,000 new cases of multiple myeloma are diagnosed each year in the United States; survival rates vary greatly depending on the stage at which the cancer is caught.

Multiple myeloma is more common in males, African-Americans, and patients over 65 years old. Other risk factors for developing multiple myeloma include obesity, radiation exposure, certain workplace toxins, and family history. The early stages of multiple myeloma may not present symptoms; advanced stages may cause bone damage, kidney failure, fatigue from anemia, and high calcium levels in the blood. The stages of multiple myeloma range from I to III, depending on the presence of certain proteins in the blood. Multiple myeloma treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, drug therapy, biologic therapy, radiation, stem cell transplantation, or a combination of these.

For more information on multiple myeloma, read the American Cancer Society's detailed guide.

If you have been affected by multiple myeloma, please be sure to take some time to read others' experiences, share your own experiences, and ask or answer questions. Don't forget to view our Beginner's Guide to Cancer.

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