Multiple myeloma is a rare cancer of certain white blood cells, plasma cells, that are found in the bone marrow.

Recent discoveries and highly successful therapies at the OSUCCC – James mean that multiple myeloma patients can often work with their team of experts to control the disease successfully for many years.

Every person’s cancer is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disease. At the OSUCCC – James, our blood cancer subspecialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on blood and bone marrow disorders and who work together across medical disciplines (hematologists, radiation oncologists, molecular and biological pathologists, genetic scientists and more) to develop individualized, highly targeted treatment plans and therapies that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer.

And by offering access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are always available for their treatment and care.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that develops when a type of white blood cell, a plasma cell, multiplies abnormally.

Over the course of months or years, myeloma cells fill the bone marrow space and interfere with the normal production of other blood cells. When the myeloma cells build up, they leave less room for healthy blood cells.

Multiple myeloma cells can eat away at areas of bone, making them weak. In fact, many people first realize they have multiple myeloma when they break a bone from minimal physical movement such as bumping into something or picking up something that would normally feel light.

The diseased plasma cells also produce an abnormal antibodies that flow into the blood and urine. In the blood, these proteins are called M proteins (monoclonal proteins). These proteins can clog the kidneys, eventually causing kidney failure.

About 24,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with multiple myeloma every year. It is most often diagnosed in patients who are 65 to 70 years old and is twice as common in African Americans as Caucasians.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

Patients with multiple myeloma often do not have symptoms early on in the disease, which can make diagnosing it difficult at first.

Later warning signs and symptoms can include:

  • Bone pain, especially in the back or ribs
  • Frequent infections
  • Feeling very tired
  • Frequent urination

When myeloma cells damage the bones, they leach out the calcium into the blood. Too much calcium in the blood can affect many parts of the body, including the kidneys, nerves, heart, muscles and digestive tract, leading to:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Feeling very tired
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion or trouble thinking

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Having symptoms does not necessarily mean you have multiple myeloma. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms are severe or have continued longer than a few weeks.

If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a blood cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

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Columbus, Ohio 43210


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