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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.

References

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. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/mulmy.html. Published April 2018. Accessed April 2019.

iii Gertz MA. Multiple Myeloma. NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/multiple-myeloma/. 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. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/7108/multiple-myeloma. Published 2016. Accessed March 2019.

vii National Cancer Institute. Mulitple Myeloma Awareness and African American Disparities. https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/crchd/blog/2017/multiple-myeloma-disparities. Published April 2017. Accessed March 2020.