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Multiple Myeloma Causes, Symptoms, Treatment Prognosis

My mother died from Myeloma and I wanted to let people know what is.

The micrograph shows abundant malignant plasma cells. Multiple Myeloma

The micrograph shows abundant malignant plasma cells. Multiple Myeloma

What is Myeloma

Myeloma also referred to as multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells. In the hollowed out area in the marrow of the bone, you will find the plasma cells. Plasma cells are found in the blood; so many times this type of cancer is referred to as blood cancer.

Myeloma affects certain white blood cells called plasma cells. Both plasma and other white cells help protect the body through the immune system fighting infection and disease. These plasma cells have the job of producing antibodies.

There are many different types of plasma cells each fighting different bacteria and diseases. When cancer affects the plasma cells, the cells in actuality are being overproduced and are abnormal plasma cells called myeloma cells.

These cells will collect in the marrow of the bone or in the hard outer part of the bone creating a mass or tumor. The myeloma cells keep increasing weakening the bones, which in turn causes pain, and sometimes will fracture the bones.

The body cannot always fight infections and diseases because the myeloma cells stop the bone marrow from making normal plasma and white cells.


Causes

Although no one is absolutely sure as to what the cause of myeloma is, there are some factors as follows:

  • Age: 96% found in people over the age of 45 and in people over the age of 70 it is 75%.
  • Genetic: If you have a close relative (parent, brother, sister) that has myeloma then you have a higher risk of developing it.
  • Environmental factors
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals including Agent Orange
  • Exposure to metals, asbestos, radiation.
  • Diet: Some studies show that if there is not enough fish or vegetables in someone's diet they may be at a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma.
  • HIV/Aids
  • Certain Occupations: People that work in agriculture, the leather industry, cosmetology, and petroleum workers.
  • Certain viruses


A Global Disease

Although many people have never heard of myeloma, globally there are one million people that have this type of cancer.

This blood cancer is the second most common.

Myeloma suppresses the immune system.

It is a chronic disease that can be controlled for many years with drug therapies.

There is a higher incidence in African Americans and less frequent among Asians.

Cases of multiple myeloma are being reported from first responder's from the 9/11 attack.

Each year in the USA alone there are approximately 20,000 new cases of multiple myeloma diagnosed.

Myeloma

Description for Picture Above from Dr. Laughlin Dawes

"This 59-year-old patient presented with a left facial droop and a known history of multiple myeloma. A CT brain was performed looking for a cerebral cause. The brain appeared normal. Close inspection revealed a lytic lesion in the left temporal bone, and focused reconstructions of the petrous temporal bones confirmed a lytic lesion involving the mastoid segment of the facial nerve canal. Red arrows: lesion; green arrow: normal contralateral facial nerve canal. The lytic lesion was one of many in the skull and is consistent with a myeloma deposit."

Symptoms

Many times a person will not have any symptoms of myeloma in the early stages, and it won't be detected until they either go for blood work, a urine test, or fracture a bone.

  • Pain in the bones especially the back or ribs.
  • Exhaustion and fatigue.
  • Frequent urination, thirst, and nausea.
  • Frequent infections, cold sores, and fever.
  • Weakness in the muscles.
  • Kidney problems.

Prognosis for Myeloma or Any Type of Cancer

Your prognosis will be determined by the stage of your disease as well as many other contributing factors.

  • How long you've had cancer before it was diagnosed.
  • How healthy you are otherwise.
  • What your age is.
  • What type of treatment you have.
  • How well you respond to different treatments.

Always keep in mind that if your doctor tells you that the prognosis for said cancer is five years, this doesn't mean that you won't live ten or more years. No one can really determine how long you will or will not live.

References

Myeloma Canada

International Myeloma Foundation and Myeloma Canada \media Workshop on June 28, 2012, Amsterdam - Media and Webcast

MTN Medical News Today

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Susan Zutautas

Comments

Jae on January 24, 2020:

I was first diagnosed with MGUS, a precursor for multiple myeloma in my mid 30s. I’m now 42 and even though my levels are not quite high enough to be considered active multiple myeloma yet, I have a plethora of symptoms and unbearable pain! I have met others in a similar conundrum in which there’s no treatment being done, not even pain management, and there’s times when the pain is so horrible I have literally begged to die because I couldn’t cope! And then doctors treat you like a heroin addict because you are in pain and just need some relief. It feels like a ice pick stabbing through my bone marrow! I feel like my body was thrown off a tall building and all my bones are fractured. The pain is unbearable at best! The opioid epidemic is killing the people who are suffering in unimaginable pain from illnesses like this! I hope someday soon we can get past the one size fits all approach to healthcare and start treating people like they actually matter and deserve quality care and pain management.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 20, 2014:

Adriean, Thank you. Normally I don't allow links in my comments but since yours is about Myeloma I will leave it here.

The Myeloma Crowd A site created for patients by patients.

Adriean on March 20, 2014:

As multiple myeloma progresses, plasma cells begin to spill out of the bone marrow and deposit elsewhere in the body, causing further organ damage. Great read! http://www.myelomacrowd.org/tag/relapsed-myeloma/

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 06, 2013:

Audrey, My mother had myeloma and I am a survivor of breast cancer for over 20 years now. Thanks so much!

Audrey Howitt from California on March 05, 2013:

I did not know you had had cancer---I send you all my positive thoughts--This is such an informative hub---Kudos to you!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 29, 2012:

Angela, Thank you so much for sharing this here. My heart goes out to you and your husband. Tell him to keep fighting and thinking only positive thoughts. Bless you both.

Angela on November 28, 2012:

My husband was diagnosed 18 months ago with MM and we are from SD. he had a stem cell transplant using his own cells 5 months later and then was in remission after his 100 day checkup after transplant. He is still receiving maintenance chemo and the transplant was very hard to go through, but he is getting stronger and is a true fighter. The biggest thing is that he is tired and doesn't have a lot of energy, so needs lot of rest. God Bless all of you that have went through this disease. His is Stage 2. There is a new normal that we have to get used to, but I am thankful each day for my husband and the good doctor we have. 2nd year testing showed partial remission so he is still fighting. Take care all.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 22, 2012:

ladywolf, I'm so sorry to read this.

ladywolf1 on October 20, 2012:

susan....i am going thru the diagnistics now. dr is almost positive it is mm.

i live in bracebridge

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 11, 2012:

Thanks GoodLady, Yes you can and I wish you all the best.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 11, 2012:

Thank you Judi.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 10, 2012:

Janis, Thanks for reading and for your comments. The only person I've ever known personally to have this type of cancer was my mother and have just recently met people that know of this type of cancer.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on October 09, 2012:

I had NO idea your cancer returned again. You are quite wonderful and thank you for being such a helpful example of a human being. I take courage from you and people like you and I consider you to be my angels. If you can do it, then so can I (if I must). Bless.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 09, 2012:

GoodLady, Yes that is true, cancer can strike any one of us at anytime. When I had cancer the first time I wasn't really surprised but when it came back the second time my initial reaction was OH no not again, this isn't fair.

Thank you for reading and for your comments.

Judi Brown from UK on October 09, 2012:

Hubs like this are always hard to read, but I know it must have been hard for you to write it. You did a fantastic job and I hope it helps someone to recognise a symptom in time to get treatment.

Janis Goad on October 09, 2012:

thank you for researching and writing about this, Susan. The more we know, the better is it to cope and help others cope. I don't know anyone with this type of cancer right now, but cancer of various forms seems common in my community and I really do wonder how environmental factors encourage cancer, as you mention in your article.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on October 09, 2012:

Sometimes it's just a random cancer cell that grows! We always wonder if it's our diet, out this or that, but sometimes it is just pure bad luck. This is what an oncological specialist told me about my cancer because i was doing my head in wondering what it was about my life that caused my cancer (in order to prevent it coming back again). Thought I'd add to your interesting article with my experience to help others who are in my predicament. A healthy life style, a life as stress free as possible, a healthy diet and so on all help to keep us well YES and very important to take on board. But cancer can still come along!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 01, 2012:

Vicki, Thank you.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 01, 2012:

vocalcoach, I knew of your son having cancer through some of your articles I've read and it saddens me. With my mother having died from myeloma, I learned more than I knew before from researching this. Thank you for reading and for your comments.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on September 30, 2012:

What an informative article. I had never heard of this, and you explain it well. Voted up among others. Good job, Susan.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on September 30, 2012:

Thank you Susan for writing this hub because I knew nothing about Myeloma. With the death of my son (testicular cancer) I'm trying to learn all I can about cancer in all it's types and forms.

You've given an easy to understand explanation here. Voted up and across and will share.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 05, 2012:

Sharyn, I didn't mean to scare you but I know what you mean about reading about different symptoms. The main thing that does scare me about myeloma is the genetic part of it.

Thanks for reading and for your comments. Hope all goes well with your doctor's appointment.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on September 04, 2012:

Okay, this is scary. Every time I see a list of "symptoms" lately, I get nervous. I know it has to do with getting older and things are changing. I mean like not enough fish or vegetables? I rarely eat either. Kidney problems, well I have some. I guess we just have to do the best we can to take care of ourselves. Thank you for this information SZ. I do have a doctor's appt. scheduled in a couple weeks.

Sueswan on August 19, 2012:

Hi Susan,

Hope you enjoy the ex. I am not a fan. I have been invited to a barbeque next weekend in Brantford otherwise I would ask you if you would like to meet for a coffee.

Have a good week. :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 18, 2012:

Hi Sue, Hope that you have a good weekend too and thanks.

I'm hoping to make it down to Toronto to hit the EX this weekend or next.

Sueswan on August 17, 2012:

Hi Susan,

I am sorry that you lost your mom to myeloma.

Thank you for educating us about this kind of cancer. I have heard of blood cancer cause I have seen ads in the subway stations.

I think processed and genetically modified food is responsible for many of the cancers today.

Voted up and away

Have a good weekend. :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 17, 2012:

Jimmy and tillsontitan, Thank you both.

Mary Craig from New York on August 17, 2012:

There are so many funny, useful, interesting hubs available to us but the ones that are especially interesting AND educational are a must read. This hub, as we can all see from the comments, is educational and more than useful!

I am so sorry for those of you who have been affected by this cancer in one way or another.

Thank you for this Susan, I am sure it will be a useful hub for a long time to come.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Jimmy the jock from Scotland on August 16, 2012:

Thanks for sharing this Susan, I have never heard of this before but you give a great breakdown of the symptoms that is easier to understand than what a doctor would tell you with all his medical terms and Mumbo Jumbo.....jimmy

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 14, 2012:

Melovy, I suppose Gillettes could have been a factor, not really sure.

Yvonne Spence from UK on August 13, 2012:

Susan, I don't think doctors do know how long he'd had it. They took about 6 months to diagnose him, but the summer before he had been fit - cycling with my kids, that sort of thing. But he had odd bruises (very dark) that I asked him about and though at the time he didn't think they were serious I suspect they may have been an indication.

It is so sad that your mother died so young. As Carly said, it must have been very frightening for you at 3. Do you think her working at Gillettes might have been a cause for her?

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

Thank you Genna.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

Melovy, I hope that your dad does well with the new treatment. Do his doctors have any idea how long he may have had myeloma before it was diagnosed?

I'm still puzzled over why my mother ended up myeloma and at such a young age. She was very athletic, worked as a secretary for Gillettes .... unfortunate I suppose.

Glad that I saw your question as this subject was one that I too am interested in.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

Thank you Golfgal.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

chloelozano, Sorry to read this. Wish your mother all the best.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 13, 2012:

This is an excellent hub, Susan. Diet plays such an important role in our lives, as well as supplements. I noticed in your article that Asians suffer less from this disease; their diet, I think, is a major cause of this. Well done!

Yvonne Spence from UK on August 13, 2012:

Susan, thank you so much for answering my question so thoroughly. As you know, my father has myeloma. He has had it for 4 years and has just started a third type of treatment. I was curious about the causes because the island where he lives has around 650 people and we know of 2 other people with myeloma. One has died, the other one has had it for 20 years and is still alive and mobile, so it is not always an instant death sentence.

My father was exposed to many of the risk factors you have highlighted: worked in agriculture, and with asbestos, exposure to some chemicals and a diet low in vegetables. He was 85 when diagnosed. He was extremely fit for his age beforehand which has probably helped him cope. I do at times feel sad to see how the disease has attacked his body as he can't walk far now and gets tired very easily. On the other hand, his spirit and determination are awe-inspiring.

Thanks again for writing this hub. Voted up of course, U and I.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

Earthy Mother, I am glad to hear that your Aunt is doing well. It seems that many people are responding to different drug therapies quite well, which is always a good thing. Thank you so much for your comments and I wish your aunt well.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

Thanks Ruby.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

drbj, Thank you for stopping by to read and for your comments.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 13, 2012:

Hyphenbird, Some studies say that diet may be linked to a higher multiple myeloma risk. Thank you and yes it is scary.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 12, 2012:

Mike, I did find some things that I never knew about before when I was researching myeloma. I too am always interested in learning more about cancer.

Glad you liked the hub and thank you.

Golfgal from McKinney, Texas on August 12, 2012:

Great job Susan as usual. I always gravitate to medical info.

Thanks for the simple and easy understand hub on this topic.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 12, 2012:

Thanks Frank :)

chloelozano on August 12, 2012:

You did a good job explaining this illness. My mother was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of Multiple Myeloma and we are in the process of exploring treatment options. It's a scary illness :(

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on August 12, 2012:

Susan you , my dear are a warrior, having to fight on and strong from such a young age. I also feared I would die of cancer young, but alas still ticking and healthy and almost 40! :) Sorry to hear your battle with cancer. I am thinking maybe another hub when you are ready to tell that tale, or maybe you did, I will have to look in your library. Glad to follow another strong woman.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 12, 2012:

Carly, I am about an hour an a half north of Toronto. I always had a fear that I would die of cancer by the time I was 36. I did end up with cancer, a different type and I was fortunate to have beaten it.

Thank you for coming back again.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 12, 2012:

Josh, Thank you.

Nicole Forman from South East England on August 12, 2012:

I am so sorry to hear that both your Mothers had this...my Aunt is a currently a sufferer. She was diagnosed about a year ago and has had various treatments and is currently doing well. It is something that I had never heard of before, and it is one of the rarer cancers, but of late I am hearing the name more and more. I was recently admitted to hospital myself and another patient on my ward was a sufferer - she said that she had been diagnosed a good ten years prior and was still going strong. I thought it was a different type of cancer to that which my Aunt has as she referred to it as "multiple myeloma" rather than "myeloma" but it is the same thing. She said a treatment called Velcade had been her saviour...Great hub to raise awareness - voted up xx

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 11, 2012:

Susan, You have written a very educational hub. It's time we all make better choices in our diet. Thank you for sharing...

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 11, 2012:

Thank you for your in-depth research, Susan, and sharing this important information with us. Was not aware that this disease affects more than a million sufferers.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 11, 2012:

This is indeed a scary cancer. I am so sorry for all of you who have lost loved ones to this disease. I had never heard of it before. Thankfully my family eats lots of fresh vegetables and our immune systems are strong. Your research and presentation on this Hub is spectacular. Thank you for that.

Mike Pugh from New York City on August 11, 2012:

Awesome informative hub here Susan on Myleoma, I like how you've sectioned everything out here, the spacing is awesome, and the page breaks tops it off in terms of positioning of your content.

The actual cancer research, and details here also helps those interested in learning much more about Myleoma, and many folks are in need of such useful information today.

Thanks for working so hard on it , and I appreciate your effort, and expertise in this area of medical info you've provided, as you may know my mother died from cancer a while back, and so I'm always in search of more relevant info as you provided here.

Voted up and getting shared everywhere I'm able to.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 11, 2012:

Yeah, these types of Hubs should be a must read Justasksusan... thank you for sharing Frank

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on August 11, 2012:

Susan, (My mom was Canadian also, she lived just outside of Toronto).

I am sorry to hear about your mother dying at such a young age for you. How scary that must have been for a 3 year. At 3 years, children are concrete thinkers. I wonder if you ever had the fear of breaking a bone could end in death?

It is a nasty cancer, and I am glad this information is coming forth. This cancer needs a ribbon and a 3-day walk as well.

Thank you again for your hard work that included research and images.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2012:

Carly, I am so sorry to hear that your mother died of multiple myeloma.

When I saw that Melovy had asked the question about myeloma I had to answer it as my mother died of this when I was 3 years old. That was almost 52 years ago. It was discovered that she had this when she'd fallen down the stairs in our house and broke her leg. They didn't know as much then as they do now about myeloma. When they saw her x-rays they admitted her into the hospital right away. She never came out and died a few months later.

Thank you so much for reading and for sharing that with me and once again I am very sorry to hear about your mother. Hugs.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2012:

Patricia, Thank you.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2012:

Hi Susan, Thanks.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2012:

TToombs, Cancer is a terrifying disease.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2012:

Thank you healthylife.

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on August 10, 2012:

Susan,

I had no idea what thise disease was before coming into this read. I want to say that you did excellent with your disclaimer because you definitely made myeloma is easy to understand. Thanks for sharing this very informative hub Susan.

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on August 10, 2012:

Susan, thank you for writing this. I am sitting here in tears. My mother died of multiple myeloma a little over a year ago. It was a painful dying process and death. Luckily we had hospice involved that could help administer narcotics to keep the pain at bay. My mom had this cancer for about 9 years.

She had a stem cell transplant with harvesting her on stem cells. Mostly, it was pharmaceutical therapy that kept her going all those years. She would have great spans of remission, and then the cancer will show up again.

Every time it did, it came back stronger. Until the doctor told her, this time the cancer is going to win. She almost died two time prior.

I would of loved to have read your hub back than. Reading about multiple myeloma is a complex cancer and hard to understand. I appreciate you taking the time to write about this.

Patricia on August 10, 2012:

A very well written article and very informative.

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on August 10, 2012:

Susan, I agree with RH. You explained it in a way that I understood it. I think about the lack of vegetables and fish in my own diet, and intend to improve. The statistics are daunting.

Great information that all need to be made aware.

Votes and shares...

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 10, 2012:

RH, Thanks you. I was worried that my explanation of myeloma wouldn't come out clear enough, so thanks for letting me know you understood what I was trying to convey.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 10, 2012:

Wow, where is the "scary" button when you need one? Thank you for the heads up on this one, Susan. That is some terrifying stuff!

healthylife2 on August 10, 2012:

Very well organized and comprehensive description of myeloma. I'm glad you included lack of nutrition as one of the risk factors and the fact that doctors don't have a crystal ball so they can't really predict a patient's life expectancy or even their own.Voted up and shared!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 10, 2012:

Susan - you did a superb job with this! That topic is really hard to understand and I thought you made it very easy to follow and I had no problem like I ususally do reading medical text.

Awesome photos and beautiful job with the layout design and everything! Up and everything but funny.

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