What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a rare incurable blood cancer, accounting for 2% of all cancers. Multiple myeloma mainly affects those over the age of 65, however it can occur in people much younger. It is caused by damage to a person’s DNA during the development of plasma cells, which are made in the bone marrow.
The exact causes of multiple myeloma are not well understood, however there are risk factors which may increase the likelihood of developing multiple myeloma. These risk factors include:
- exposure to radiation or chemicals
- personal history
- monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance
The most common symptoms of multiple myeloma include bone pain, recurring infection, kidney damage, and fatigue.
Multiple myeloma is a relapsing-remitting cancer, meaning there are periods when the myeloma is causing symptoms and/or complications and needs to be treated, followed by periods of remission where there are no symptoms and no treatments required.
There are different stages of multiple myeloma for which there are different treatment options. Treatments may include stem cell transplantation, and most commonly combinations of drugs.
Treatments for multiple myeloma can be very effective at controlling the disease, relieving symptoms and complications and prolonging life. Unfortunately however, multiple myeloma is at present incurable.