Myeloma Awareness and Prevention

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Myeloma develops when a plasma cell in the bone marrow mutates or changes and then multiplies, affecting the production of healthy blood cells. We’re not entirely sure why some plasma cells become malignant myeloma cells and others don’t.

However, we do know that certain risk factors exist, and patients at risk should be aware of any signs or symptoms and discuss them with their doctor. As with all cancers, early diagnosis of myeloma leads to more effective treatment options.

Risk Factors

Certain risk factors can increase a person’s risk of developing myeloma. These include:

  • Older age: People age 50 and older are more likely to develop myeloma than those under 40.
  • Being male: More men develop myeloma than women.
  • African-American race: African-Americans are more than twice as likely to develop myeloma than Caucasians.
  • History of MGUS: People with a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) are at higher risk for myeloma.

Other possible risk factors include obesity and exposure to certain types of chemicals, but these are still being researched.

Symptoms of Myeloma

Symptoms of myeloma vary, and not everyone experiences symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms do occur, they can be vague and similar to symptoms of other conditions. Patients should discuss anything unusual with their doctor. 

The most common myeloma symptoms include:

  • Bone pain, weakness, or fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Increased thirst
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired kidney function