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Multiple Myeloma

What is Multiple Myeloma?

  • Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the U.S., with an estimated 32,270 new cases to be diagnosed in 2020.[i,ii] Multiple myeloma arises in a person’s bone marrow, when plasma cells mutate into problematic myeloma cells. These cells accumulate, crowding out healthy blood cells.[iii]
  • The next generation of multiple myeloma research is pointing towards a number of investigational targets, including BCMA. BCMA, or B-cell maturation antigen, is a protein found on cancerous myeloma cells, which is exhibited in all people with multiple myeloma.[iv,v]

What are the signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma?

  • While some may not exhibit symptoms of multiple myeloma, once myeloma cells begin to crowd normal blood cells, symptoms often appear. Some signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma include:[iii,vi]
Multiple myeloma signs and symptoms

Who can be impacted by multiple myeloma?

While everyone can be impacted by multiple myeloma, it is more common in:

  • People aged >66 years old.[i] The risk of developing multiple myeloma increases with age.
  • Men[iii] are slightly more likely to develop multiple myeloma.
  • African Americans[vii] are at twice the risk of developing multiple myeloma compared to white Americans.

How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?

  • Multiple myeloma is often diagnosed through several exams and tests. Most commonly, doctors may run a variety of specialized blood and/or urine tests, bone marrow examinations, x-rays or other imaging tests and genetic tests.[iii]

How is multiple myeloma treated?

  • Treatments for multiple myeloma work in different ways, so a person’s doctor may choose to combine various therapies including stem cell transplant, chemotherapy, corticosteroids, antibody therapy, immunomodulators and proteasome inhibitors.[vi]
  • Download this PDF file to learn more about multiple myeloma.


i Kazandjian D. Multiple myeloma epidemiology and survival: A unique malignancy. Semin Oncol. 2016;43(6):676–681. doi:10.1053/j.seminoncol.2016.11.004.

ii Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M et al. Cancer Stat Facts: Myeloma. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results – National Cancer institute. Published April 2018. Accessed April 2019.

iii Gertz MA. Multiple Myeloma. NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Published 2016. Accessed March 2019.

iv Seckinger A, et al. Cancer Cell. 2017;31(3):396–410.

v Cho SF, et al. Front Immunol. 2018;9:1821.

vi Multiple myeloma. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Published 2016. Accessed March 2019.

vii National Cancer Institute. Mulitple Myeloma Awareness and African American Disparities. Published April 2017. Accessed March 2020.