Learn About Multiple Myeloma

What is the definition of Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a rare cancer that occurs in bone marrow (soft tissue inside bones) in white blood cells called plasma cells that usually produce antibodies (immunoglobulins) which help the body to fight infection. However, in multiple myeloma the plasma cells become cancerous, producing a protein known by several names, including monoclonal immunoglobulin, monoclonal protein (M-protein), M-spike, or paraprotein. The cancerous plasma cells fill up the bone marrow, eventually spreading to the outside of the bones and weakening them, causing bone fractures. The cancerous plasma cells additionally begin producing high levels of an antibody (immunoglobulin) that increases the viscosity (thickness) of the blood, leading to clotting, which can further cause kidney damage. While levels of one antibody increase, others drop, increasing the risk of infections. Red blood cell counts also drop, causing anemia, while blood calcium levels increase, leading to dehydration, constipation, and confusion.   Types of multiple myeloma include smoldering myeloma, which usually occurs without symptoms, and plasmacytoma, which is marked by abnormal plasma cells that occur in only one bone, causing pain. Multiple myeloma mainly occurs in older people over the age of 60, males, African Americans, people who are obese, and those with a family history of multiple myeloma, or who have been diagnosed with a condition known as monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance (MGUS; see more about this condition below.)
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What are the alternative names for Multiple Myeloma?
Alternative names for multiple myeloma include bone cancer, blood marrow cancer, myeloma, plasmacytoma, plasma cell myeloma, and smoldering myeloma.
What are the causes of Multiple Myeloma?
While the causes of multiple myeloma are unknown, multiple myeloma usually starts out as a non-cancerous (benign) disorder called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), in which abnormal plasma cells produce M proteins. About one percent of people with MGUS will subsequently be diagnosed with multiple myeloma or another cancer. A recent finding in myeloma cells is that part of chromosome number 17 is missing, which can make the disease more aggressive and progress rapidly. Bone marrow cells called dendritic cells may also produce an excess of a hormone called interleukin-6 (IL-6) which appears to contribute to the development of plasma cell tumors. Risk factors that may lead to the development of multiple myeloma include exposure to the toxic chemical, benzene, pesticides, or radiation. A family history of multiple myeloma increases the risk of developing the disease. People who are overweight or obese also have an increased risk of developing multiple myeloma.
What are the symptoms of Multiple Myeloma?
Early multiple myeloma may not have any symptoms. Signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma include bone pain, especially in the ribs or back, bruising easily, bones that easily break (fractures), excessive thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness and fatigue, nausea and vomiting, frequent infections and fever, weakness or numbness in the legs, prolonged bleeding after minor cuts, difficulty breathing, and confusion.
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What are the current treatments for Multiple Myeloma?
Treatment for multiple myeloma depends on how far the disease has progressed and whether there are any symptoms. Patients with multiple myeloma who are not currently experiencing any symptoms, known as smoldering myeloma, may not require any treatment. Once symptoms occur, treatments for multiple myeloma can include chemotherapy, stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant; SCT), radiation therapy, corticosteroids, targeted therapy, and biological therapy. While most treatments for multiple myeloma may control the disease or delay it for years, these treatments are usually not curative. Initial treatment for multiple myeloma is usually a combination of mediations, such as bortezomib (Velcade), corticosteroids (dexamethasone), and lenalidomide. Added therapies for more advanced multiple myeloma may include bisphosphonates, immunoglobulins, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant; SCT), radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and biological therapy. Bisphosphonates – Bisphosphonates are usually given by infusion for multiple myeloma and can decrease the risk of bone fractures and increase survival. Immunoglobulins – Also given by infusion for multiple myeloma, immunoglobulins can help to prevent severe infections. Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is usually administered via pill or intravenously (through a vein; IV) in high doses for multiple myeloma, usually before stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant). Stem cell transplant (Bone marrow transplant; SCT) – Stem cells are cells that are taken from blood or bone marrow that, when transplanted (via transfusion), develop into new, healthy blood cells. Before stem cell transplant, high doses of chemotherapy will be administered to kill the cancer cells. If the stem cells are taken from the same patient who later receives them after chemotherapy, this is called autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy uses beams of X-rays or protons and can be used in multiple myeloma to reduce the size of bone tumors, slow disease progression, and to treat pain. Corticosteroids – Corticosteroids are usually administered intravenously (through a vein; IV) or in pill form, help to control inflammation by regulating the immune system, and can be effective against myeloma cells. Targeted therapy – Targeted therapy is a form of treatment directed at disrupting certain abnormalities within cancer cells to kill them. For multiple myeloma, the targeted therapies bortezomib (Velcade), carfilzomib (Kyprolis), and ixazomib (Ninlaro) stop myeloma cells from breaking down proteins, which kills the myeloma cells. Biological therapy – Biological therapy is usually administered in pill form and enlists the immune system in attacking myeloma cells and includes medications such as thalidomide (Thalomid), lenalidomide (Revlimid), and pomalidomide (Pomalyst). If multiple myeloma reoccurs after treatment or does not respond to treatment, an additional round of treatment, or combinations of treatments, may be administered. Patients with multiple myeloma should also consider participating in a clinical trial to gain access to new, experimental treatments.
Who are the top Multiple Myeloma Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
13
conditions
Oncology
Hematology Oncology

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd Unit 429 
Houston, TX 77030

Robert Orlowski is an Oncologist and a Hematologist Oncology doctor in Houston, Texas. Dr. Orlowski has been practicing medicine for over 31 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Multiple Myeloma. He is also highly rated in 13 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Multiple Myeloma, Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia, Plasmacytoma, and Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance. He is board certified in Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine and licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Orlowski is currently accepting new patients.

Elite
Highly rated in
38
conditions
Hematology Oncology
Oncology

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin

Cancer Center - Froedtert Hospital

8800 W Doyne Ave 
Wauwatosa, WI 53226

Parameswaran Hari is a Hematologist Oncology specialist and an Oncologist in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Dr. Hari has been practicing medicine for over 30 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Multiple Myeloma. He is also highly rated in 38 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Multiple Myeloma, Primary Amyloidosis, Graft Versus Host Disease, and Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He is board certified in Hematology/oncology, Internal Medicine, and Medical Oncology and licensed to treat patients in Wisconsin. Dr. Hari is currently accepting new patients.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
11
conditions
Hematology Oncology

NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System

CUMC /Herbert Irving Pavilion

161 Fort Washington Ave 
New York, NY 10032

Suzanne Lentzsch is a Hematologist Oncology doctor in New York, New York. Dr. Lentzsch has been practicing medicine for over 28 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Multiple Myeloma. She is also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Multiple Myeloma, Primary Amyloidosis, Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance, and Schnitzler Syndrome. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hematology/oncology and licensed to treat patients in New York and Pennsylvania. Dr. Lentzsch is currently accepting new patients.

What are the support groups for Multiple Myeloma?
There are a variety of support groups for multiple myeloma: American Cancer Society - https://www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/resource-search.html American Society of Clinical Oncology - https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/finding-support-and-information/cancer-specific-resources International Myeloma Foundation - https://www.myeloma.org/about-imf Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation - https://themmrf.org/
What is the outlook (prognosis) for Multiple Myeloma?
In most patients with multiple myeloma, the disease progresses slowly for two-to-five years, and then may worsen. One-third of patients with multiple myeloma live longer than five years. Some patients die within three months after diagnosis. Early treatment can help to improve survival for multiple myeloma.
What are the possible complications of Multiple Myeloma?
In most patients with multiple myeloma, the disease progresses slowly for two-to-five years, and then may worsen. One-third of patients with multiple myeloma live longer than five years. Some patients die within three months after diagnosis. Early treatment can help to improve survival for multiple myeloma.
When should I contact a medical professional for Multiple Myeloma?
If you experience any signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma, such as bone pain, especially in the ribs or back, bruising easily, bones that break easily (fractures), excessive thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness and fatigue, nausea and vomiting, frequent infections and fever, weakness or numbness in legs, prolonged bleeding after minor cuts, difficulty breathing, and confusion, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Individuals with a family history of multiple myeloma should speak with their doctor about being screened for the disease.
How do I prevent Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma may possibly be prevented by avoiding exposure to radiation, the toxic chemical benzene, and pesticides.
What are the latest Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials?
A Phase 2 Study of Weekly 70 mg/m2 Carfilzomib for Multiple Myeloma Patients Refractory to 27 mg/m2 Carfilzomib
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A Single Arm, Multicentre, Open Label Study of Iberdomide, Weekly Bortezomib and Dexamethasone for Transplant-ineligible, Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients: the BOREALIS Trial
What are the Latest Advances for Multiple Myeloma?
Alternating bortezomib-dexamethasone and lenalidomide-dexamethasone in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma aged over 75 years.
The golden spice curcumin in cancer: A perspective on finalized clinical trials during the last 10 years.
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Selinexor plus low-dose dexamethasone in Chinese patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma previously treated with an immunomodulatory agent and a proteasome inhibitor (MARCH): a phase II, single-arm study.