Multiple myeloma

What is multiple myeloma?

  • Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the U.S., with an estimated 34,470 new cases to be diagnosed in 2022.1,2
  • 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.3
  • 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.4,5

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:3,6
  • Breakdown of the bone resulting in high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which causes dehydration, excessive thirst, nausea, constipation and confusion
  • Poor kidney function
  • Anemia that may result in weakness dizziness and shortness of breath
  • Weakened bones making patients more susceptible to fractures
  • Weakened immune system causing more infections such as pneumonia
  • Fatigue

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.1 The risk of developing multiple myeloma increases with age.
  • Men3 are slightly more likely to develop multiple myeloma.
  • African Americans8 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.3

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.6
  • Download this PDF file to learn more about multiple myeloma.


1 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.

2 American Cancer Society Cancer Statistics Center. Myeloma.!/cancer-site/Myeloma. Accessed February 2022.

3 Gertz MA. Multiple Myeloma. NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Published 2016. Accessed February 2022.

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

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

6 Multiple myeloma. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Published 2016. Accessed February 2022.

7 National Cancer Institute. Mulitple Myeloma Awareness and African American Disparities. Published April 2017. Accessed February 2022.

Back to top