Multiple Myeloma

By: Emily Wardenburg

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma is a hematologic cancer or cancer in the white blood stream.

How does Multiple Myeloma start?

It starts in the plasma cells or white blood cell. Abnormal plasma cells suppress the growth of other cells in the bone marrow that produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Malignant plasma cells spread thorugh the bone marrow and hard outer portions of the large bones. It eventually starts to form tumors called plasmacytomas. Over time it can put mutliple soft spots or holes in the bones.

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Whats the big deal about having it in the plasma cells?

Plasma cells produce antibodies that help the body fight infection. So with a defective cell produce more of its kind, it can no longer fight off body infections or diseases coming into the body. The body will eventually just keep getting weaker.
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Symptoms & Risk Factors


  • abnormal proteins
  • high calcium blood levels
  • bone pain
  • feeling weak & very tired
  • frequent urination

Risk Factors:

  • family history
  • age over 45
  • obesity
  • history of monclonal gammopathy or MGUS (benign condition in which abnormal plasma cells make M proteins)


Blood Tests: checks levels of different proteins; complete blood count to check number of white blood cells, red blood cells, & platelets, check to see if you have high levels of calcium

X-Rays: check for broken or thinning of bones

Urine Tests: checks for type of M protein in urine & measures it

Biopsy: removes tissue to look for cancer cells, only sure way to know whether myeloma cells are in your bone marrow

  • Bone Marrow Aspiration: doctor uses a thick, hollow needle to remove samples of bone marrow
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy: doctor uses a very thick, hollow needle to remove a small piece of bone & bone marrow

What causes this type of cancer?

It starts in the structure of the DNA in a cell that is altered so a genetic mutation. Myeloma begins when a plasma cell becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell divides and makes copies of itself. These cells are uncontrollable because reproduction is so fast so itnow makes myeloma to become multiple myeloma. In time, these cells get into the tissue or known in this case bone marrow. It is spread throughout the bloodstream. Mutated cells start off in the bone marrow of the spine. Once it gets into the bloodstream and travels to another part of the body, the bone marrow is affected there to. It damages solid parts of the bone. It gets into the tissues and other systems of your body by the travel of the blood flow.This causes your body to slowly shut down and not able to reproduce enough normal plasma cells to fight off this disease. It spreads so rapdily and to mutliple parts of the body.

Three Stages Of Multiple Myeloma

Stage 1

  • Blood calcium levels are normal

  • Red blood cell levels are slightly below normal

  • Low levels of M proteins in the blood

  • Bones are slightly damaged not enough to tell

Stage 2

  • Calcium blood levels are slightly under from being normal

  • Red blood cell levels are slightly under from being normal

  • Levels of M proteins are still low

  • Damage is present in a couple bones

  • Kidneys become slightly damaged

Stage 3

  • Calcium blood levels are high

  • Red blood cell levels are low & have fallen

  • High levels of M proteins

  • Damage to multiple bones

  • Kidneys are damaged & function is abnormal


Watchful Waiting
  • regular check ups (every 3 months)
  • avoids/delays side effects but have high risk, myeloma can’t be control & gets worse
  • put off having cancer treatment
    • avoid side effects of treatment until symptoms have appear
Induction Therapy
  • different uses of drugs
  • Chemotherapy: kills fast-growing myeloma cells but harm normal cells that divide rapidly
  • Targeted Therapy: drugs that block the growth of myeloma cells, blocks the action of an abnormal protein that stimulates the growth of myeloma cells
  • Steroids: trigger the death of myeloma cells
Stem Cell Transplant
  • comes from you, family member, donor, or identical twin
  • allows you to be treated with high doses of drugs
  • high doses destroys myeloma cells & normal blood cells in the bone marrow
  • it’s like getting blood transfusion
    • new blood cells develop from the transplanted stem cells
    • new blood cells replace the ones that were destroyed by treatment