Multiple myeloma, also known as plasma cell myeloma, is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that normally produces antibodies. Often, no symptoms are noticed initially. As it progresses, bone pain, bleeding, frequent infections, and anaemia may occur. Complications may include amyloidosis.
Multiple myeloma is considered treatable, but generally incurable. Remissions may be brought about with steroids, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and stem cell transplant. Bisphosphonates and radiation therapy are sometimes used to reduce pain from bone lesions.
The cause of multiple myeloma is unknown. Risk factors include obesity, radiation exposure, family history, and certain chemicals. Multiple myeloma may develop from monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance that progress to smouldering myeloma. The abnormal plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies, which can cause kidney problems and overly thick blood. The plasma cells can also form a mass in the bone marrow or soft tissue. When one tumor is present, it is called a plasmacytoma; more than one is called multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is diagnosed based on blood or urine tests finding abnormal antibodies, bone marrow biopsy finding cancerous plasma cells, and medical imaging finding bone lesions. Another common finding is high blood calcium levels.