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Your Risk for the Blood Cancer Multiple Myeloma Increases with Age

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that begins in the plasma cells. These are a type of white blood cell and part of our immune system, which helps protect our bodies from germs and other harmful substances.

When multiple myeloma develops, the plasma cells become cancerous, multiply quickly and form tumors in the bone marrow and the solid parts of bones.

We don’t yet know the exact causes of multiple myeloma, but it’s more common in older people and African Americans. It can also run in families. About 30,000 new cases are expected this year.


Early in the disease’s development, it may not show any symptoms. That makes it difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms may include:

  • Bone pain, often in the back or ribs
  • Broken bones
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections and fevers
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Frequent urination


Learn more about the disease in this video report.

Doctors diagnose multiple myeloma using lab tests, imaging tests and a bone marrow biopsy.

Treatment depends on how advanced the disease is and whether there are symptoms. If there are no symptoms, treatment may be delayed. If there are symptoms, treatment may include chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, radiation or targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

If you have the symptoms above or questions about multiple myeloma, see your health care professional.

Meet the Author

Federico A. Sanchez, MD is an Oncologist / Hematologist at Aurora Cancer Care in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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