What is myeloma?
- Myeloma (or multiple myeloma) is a bone marrow cancer caused by abnormal plasma cells that produce an abnormal protein (“paraprotein”) in the blood, associated with anaemia, elevated blood calcium, and bone and kidney damage.
- People with myeloma frequently report symptoms of fatigue, bone pain and fractures, and infections.
- Treatment can involve chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplantation, depending on the patient’s symptoms and disease progression.
- About 1200 people are diagnosed with myeloma in Australia each year. Myeloma accounts for only 1.3% of all cancers in Australia but is one of the most common reasons for hospital stays related to cancer.
- In some patients, myeloma may arise from monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), where plasma cells in the bone marrow produce low levels of paraprotein, without other clinical problems, often for many years. Only a proportion of people with MGUS go on to develop myeloma.