Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that forms plasma cells. These cells start out as B-cell lymphocytes that mature into plasma cells when an infection in the body is detected.  


Plasma cells make antibodies needed by the body to attack and kill germs. Found mostly in the soft tissue inside the bones called bone marrow, plasma cells co-exist along with red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

When plasma cells become cancerous it’s called multiple myeloma. These cells make an abnormal antibody called monoclonal immunoglobulin, monoclonal protein (M-protein), M-spike, or paraprotein. Although this starts in the blood cells that live in the bone marrow, multiple myeloma can affect more than your bones. It can also harm other tissues and organs, such as the kidneys.

How is Multiple Myeloma Detected?

The causes of multiple myeloma are not known, and some people experience symptoms while others do not. Because of this, it is important to know what to look for and what could increase your risk to help catch multiple myeloma as early as possible, which makes it easier to treat.

What is the Survival Rate of Multiple​​ Myeloma?

The survival rate for myeloma is based on whether it’s a single tumor in the body or if multiple tumors are found. Kidney function with the additional proteins created by myeloma also impacts the survival rate along with age and the patient’s overall health condition. Multiple myeloma patients have a relative five-year survival rate of about 57%. Localized myeloma has a five-year relative survival rate of 79%.

More About Multiple Myeloma

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Early Detection Provides Best Chances of Survival

The best outcomes are for those patients who are diagnosed early. That’s why seeing your doctor regularly for blood tests and taking note of any symptoms is so important.


What is the Diagnosis Process for Multiple Myeloma?

Doctors sometimes find multiple myeloma after a routine blood test. More often, doctors suspect multiple myeloma after an x-ray for a broken bone. Usually, though, patients go to the doctor because they are having other symptoms. If you have test results that require further testing, you may be referred to a hematologist who specializes in cancers that start in the blood cells.


Multiple Myeloma Staging

If a bone marrow biopsy shows that you have multiple myeloma, your doctor needs to learn the extent (stage) of the disease to plan the best treatment. Additional tests are needed to see if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.


Multiple Myeloma Treatment Options

People with multiple myeloma have many treatment options. The options are watchful waiting, induction therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant.

Who Treats Multiple Myeloma?

A hematologist is most often the doctor who requests further testing, including a bone marrow biopsy to determine if cancer is present. Hematologists are also cancer specialists, called oncologists. They are able to treat cancers of the blood and bone marrow as well as other types of cancer throughout the body. At New York Oncology Hematology, our team of hematologists/oncologists is available to assist you whether you need to have further testing to determine the cause of your symptoms, or if you would like to get a second opinion on a multiple myeloma treatment plan. Request an appointment at one of our Albany area locations.