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What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a rare cancer that affects the blood and bones. It develops in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones.

Normally, the bone marrow is responsible for making blood cells. You can think of it like a blood factory. This factory is able to pump out all different kinds of blood cells, like red and white blood cells, and platelets.

Multiple myeloma affects one kind of white
blood cell, called a plasma cell. Normally, plasma cells help the body fight off infection and disease. In a person with multiple myeloma, the blood factory makes too many plasma cells.

Unfortunately, these plasma cells, which are now called myeloma cells, produce antibodies that don’t work properly. So, they don’t do a very good job defending the body from getting sick.

Because there are so many of them, they also crowd out other healthy cells, which can prevent the immune system from working properly.

Left unchecked, myeloma cells can continue to multiply and spread. This can cause problems in other parts of the body.

There is no cure for multiple myeloma, but many medical advancements have been made over the past decade. Talk with your doctors and nurses to come up with a care plan that’s right for you.

Related information

Multiple Myeloma in African Americans

Find out what’s different about multiple myeloma in African Americans.

How Can Multiple Myeloma Affect You?

Understand common symptoms and how multiple myeloma might affect the body.

How Is Multiple Myeloma Treated?

Read about the different options that are available to treat multiple myeloma.


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