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What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a rare blood cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell which originates in the bone marrow.3,4 Plasma cells produce antibodies that help fight infection.4

Cancerous plasma cells are known as multiple myeloma cells.4 They create abnormal antibodies, called M proteins, which offer no benefit to the body.5 As multiple myeloma cells multiply they crowd out normal plasma cells, which can lead to a number of signs and symptoms.5 While there’s no cure for multiple myeloma, there are many treatment options available.3

What are the signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma symptoms can vary from person to person. Patients with early-stage disease may experience few or mild symptoms. Patients with active multiple myeloma may experience some of the following symptoms:5,6

What factors might increase the chances of someone developing multiple myeloma?

Being age 65+

Though it can be diagnosed in younger people, multiple myeloma is most common in people between the ages of 65-74.

Being a male

Multiple myeloma is slightly more common in men than in women. Just over half of new cases diagnosed will be in men.

Being African American

African Americans are more than twice as likely to develop multiple myeloma as white Americans. The reason is unknown.

Having family history

A person with a sibling or parent with multiple myeloma may be more likely to develop the disease than someone who does not. However, this only accounts for a small percentage of diagnoses.

What can I expect following diagnosis?

Following diagnosis, your physician will assess whether or not you need to begin treatment. If you are not exhibiting symptoms of multiple myeloma, you may not need to begin therapy. However, if you do require treatment, your physician will work with you to find the best treatment option to try to get you into remission, which is a decrease or disappearance of signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma.8

Unfortunately, the disease returns in nearly all patients.9 This is known as a relapse and the treatment of multiple myeloma is often characterized by recurring cycles of relapse and remission.10 For this reason, patients with multiple myeloma often need several different combinations of therapies during their treatment journey.11

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Where can I find out more about multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a very individualized disease. For that reason, your oncologist will be able to provide you information best suited for your needs.5 There are also many helpful organizations and resources that can provide more background information on multiple myeloma.