Myeloma is a type of blood cancer that develops from plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow. In the UK, around 5,500 people are diagnosed with myeloma each year.
With myeloma the plasma cell makes lots of abnormal (cancerous) plasma cells. We call these myeloma cells. These myeloma cells fill up the bone marrow. This makes it harder for the bone marrow to make enough other normal blood cells. This causes some of the symptoms of myeloma.
Myeloma cells can affect the bone marrow and bones in different parts of the body. This is why it is sometimes called multiple myeloma. It can cause bone pain, bone thinning and sometimes breaks the bones (called fractures).
Myeloma can also affect the kidneys.
Plasma cells make immunoglobulins (antibodies). They help fight viruses or bacteria in the body. But myeloma cells make an abnormal immunoglobulin called a paraprotein which cannot fight infection. You may also make less normal immunoglobulins than usual. This makes it harder for your body to fight infections.
Am I at risk?
There are certain things that can increase the chance of developing myeloma. These are called risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get cancer. And not having risk factors does not mean you will not develop it. Risk factors of myeloma are:
- being overweight
- family history
- a weakened immune system
- autoimmune disease
- People with a diagnosis of Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
For more information on the risk factors of myeloma, please follow this link.
Symptoms of Myeloma
There are different symptoms of myeloma. They include:
- bone pain
- feeling very tired
- getting different infections
- tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Some people are diagnosed with myeloma after a routine blood test. They may not have noticed any symptoms before this.
These symptoms can be caused by other conditions. But if you have any of these symptoms it is important to get them checked by your GP.
For more information on the symptoms of myeloma, please follow this link.
For more information from Macmillan regarding myeloma, please follow this link.
For more information from Cancer Research UK regarding myeloma, please follow this link.
Myeloma UK have some useful information for Myeloma patients, their webpage can be accessed by following this link.