Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors, Complications, And Treatment Options


A malignancy known as multiple myeloma develops in a kind of white blood cell known as a plasma cell. To help your body fight diseases, healthy plasma cells create antibodies that attach to and kill microorganisms.

With multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and displace healthy blood cells. Cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that may cause problems rather than produce helpful antibodies.

It is not usually necessary to start multiple myeloma treatment straight immediately. Your doctor might advise diligent monitoring rather than starting treatment right away if the multiple myeloma is slowly progressing and not producing any symptoms. There are several alternatives to help manage the disease for those with multiple myeloma who need therapy.


The exact etiology of myeloma is unknown.

At the middle of the majority of your bones, in the soft, blood-producing tissue known as bone marrow, myeloma is known to start with one aberrant plasma cell. The aberrant cell quickly divides.

As cancer cells do not develop and subsequently die as do regular cells, they accumulate over time and eventually outweigh the production of healthy cells. Myeloma cells squeeze out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, causing exhaustion and a lack of capacity to fight infections.

Like healthy plasma cells do, myeloma cells keep trying to create antibodies, but they instead produce aberrant antibodies that the body cannot utilize. Instead, the aberrant antibodies (also known as M proteins or monoclonal proteins) accumulate in the body and lead to issues including damage.

Bone damage brought on by cancer cells raises the possibility of shattered bones.

A relationship with MGUS

Mostly typically, monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain importance, a seemingly benign illness, is the initial manifestation of multiple myeloma (MGUS).

M proteins, which are generated by aberrant plasma cells and are present in your blood, are indicative of both MGUS and multiple myeloma. Yet, there is no bodily harm in MGUS since the amounts of M proteins are lower.

How to check if you have Multiple Myeloma?

If you have any persistent symptoms that bother you, schedule a visit with your doctor.

Risk Factors

Multiple myeloma risk factors include the following:

Advancing years. As you become older, your chance of developing multiple myeloma rises; most cases are discovered in persons in their mid-60s.

Men's sex. Compared to women, men are more prone to get the illness.

Black color. Compared to persons of other races, black people are more prone to acquire multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma in the family history. If a sibling, parent, or parent has multiple myeloma, your risk of developing the disease increases.

Undetermined significance monoclonal gammopathy (MGUS). You are more likely to develop multiple myeloma if you have MGUS since it nearly usually precedes the disease.


There may be no symptoms at all or only minor ones in the early stages of multiple myeloma.

When symptoms do materialize, they may include:

  • Bone pain
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Reduced appetite
  • Perplexity or haziness of the mind
  • Fatigue
  • Many infections
  • Loss of weight
  • Leg trembling or numbness
  • Extreme thirst


If you have symptoms, therapy can improve discomfort, manage disease consequences, stabilize your health, and delay the spread of multiple myeloma.

Treatment right away might not be required.

You might not require therapy right away if you have multiple myeloma but are asymptomatic (also known as smoldering multiple myeloma). Slow-growing early-stage multiple myeloma might not need treatment right away. Your medical professional will nonetheless keep a close eye on your health and look for any indicators of illness progression. Periodic blood and urine testing may be necessary.

You and your doctor can choose to start treatment if you start exhibiting symptoms or if your multiple myeloma exhibits signs of progression.

Myeloma treatment options

Options for conventional therapy include:

Targeted therapy. Targeted medication therapies concentrate on certain flaws in cancer cells. Targeted medication therapies can kill cancer cells by preventing these aberrations.

Immunotherapy. Your immune system is used in immunotherapy to combat cancer. Due to the cancer cells' ability to create proteins that aid in their concealment from immune system cells, your body's disease-fighting immune system may not attack your cancer. Immunotherapy affects that process in order to work.

Chemotherapy. Drugs are used in chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells. Myeloma cells are among the fast-growing cells that the medications destroy. Before a bone marrow transplant, high dosages of chemotherapy medications are administered.

Corticosteroids. In order to manage inflammation in the body, corticosteroid drugs influence the immune system. They work on myeloma cells as well.

Transplant of bone marrow. Alternatively called a bone marrow transplant, the goal of a stem cell transplant is to replace your unhealthy bone marrow with new, healthy bone marrow.

Your blood is drawn to gather blood-forming stem cells prior to a bone marrow transplant. The damaged bone marrow in your body is subsequently destroyed with large doses of chemotherapy. Finally, after being put into your body, your stem cells go to your bones and start the process of regenerating your bone marrow.

Radiation treatment. High-powered energy beams from sources like X-rays and protons are used in radiation treatment to destroy cancer cells. When a cluster of aberrant plasma cells forms a tumor (plasmacytoma) that is inflicting pain or breaking bones, it may be used to rapidly reduce myeloma cells in that location.

How therapies are applied ?

If you are deemed a strong candidate for a bone marrow transplant will determine how much you will be given. This is based on the likelihood that your condition will advance, your age, and your general state of health.

Your first therapy will probably consist of a mix of therapies, such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy, corticosteroids, and, occasionally, chemotherapy, if you are thought to be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.

Maybe a few months into your treatment is when your blood stem cells will be taken. The bone marrow transplant may be carried out immediately after your cells are obtained or it may be postponed until after a relapse, if one happens. Doctors occasionally advise two bone marrow transplants for patients with multiple myeloma.

Following your bone marrow transplant, you will probably get focused therapy or

Myeloma maintenance therapy with immunotherapy to stop relapse.

Your first therapy will probably comprise a combination of therapies, such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy, corticosteroids, and, occasionally, chemotherapy, if you are not deemed a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.

Your doctor could advise repeating the first course of treatment if your myeloma reappears or does not respond to therapy. Another choice is to attempt one or more of the other therapies that are frequently employed as first-line therapy, either separately or in combination.

You could be qualified for a clinical trial in order to have access to some of the novel therapies that are currently being researched. Consult your physician about potential clinical trial options.

Addressing issues that arise

You could also require therapy for those particular illnesses because multiple myeloma can lead to a number of consequences. For instance:

A bone ache. Radiation treatment, surgery, and painkillers all have the potential to reduce bone pain.

Kidney problems. Dialysis could be required for those with severe renal impairment.

Infections. Your doctor might advise getting specific immunisations to guard against diseases like the flu and pneumonia.

Loss of bone. To help stop bone loss, your doctor may suggest taking medications that grow bone.

Anemia. Your doctor could prescribe drugs to raise your red blood cell count if you have chronic anemia.

Complications of Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma complications include:

Many infections. Your body's capacity to fight infections is hampered by myeloma cells.

Bone issues. Your bones can be impacted by multiple myeloma, which can cause discomfort, thinning, and shattered bones.

Renal function decline. Kidney failure and other issues with renal function may be brought on by multiple myeloma.

Low level of red blood cells (anemia). Multiple myeloma can also result in anemia and other blood issues because myeloma cells force out healthy blood cells.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 29, 2023

Next review due: Mar 29, 2025

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