Glossary of Multiple Myeloma Terms
Sometimes, unfamiliar medical terms that doctors and nurses use make it harder to understand multiple myeloma.
You might also come across these words when you are reading or talking to someone about multiple myeloma. Try not to feel overwhelmed when this happens. If you’re talking to a healthcare professional, you can always ask them to explain.
24-hour urine protein
Also called total protein, a test that measures the amount and type of protein in urine over a 24-hour period. This analysis is performed as part of the initial diagnostic workup.
Absolute neutrophil count (ANC)
The number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in a sample of your blood. Neutrophils play an important role in your immune system by destroying bacteria. If you have a low ANC, this could be a sign of a condition called neutropenia, which can be a side effect of some multiple myeloma treatments and may put you at a higher risk of infection. If this happens, your doctor may make adjustments to your treatment plan to help increase your neutrophils.
Active myeloma (symptomatic myeloma)
Myeloma that has spread throughout the bone marrow and is causing symptoms. Active myeloma is defined as the presence of monoclonal protein and 1 or more of the CRAB features: Calcium elevation (increase of >11 mg/dL); Renal dysfunction (creatinine >2 mg/dL); Anemia (hemoglobin <10 g/dL or >2 g/dL decrease from the patient’s baseline); Bone disease (lytic lesions or osteoporosis). (See CRAB criteria.)
Acute kidney injury (acute renal failure)
The term acute kidney injury has replaced the term acute renal failure. It is a serious condition characterized by a sudden decrease in the functioning of the kidney. Acute kidney injury can be caused by many different factors in patients with multiple myeloma.
The main protein in the plasma. Albumin levels are used as part of the initial diagnostic workup for multiple myeloma.
A type of stem cell transplant in which bone marrow or stem cells are collected from a donor and infused into a recipient. The donor is compatible with the recipient but not genetically identical.
A rare plasma cell disorder, related to multiple myeloma, where substances called amyloid proteins deposit in organs and disrupt the structure and function of affected tissue and organs. Amyloids are abnormal proteins produced by cells in the bone marrow.
A condition defined by a decrease in hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood, usually below 10 g/dL (normal range, >13 to 14 g/dL). Myeloma in the bone marrow blocks red blood cell production. Some common symptoms of anemia include shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue.
A protein that is normally produced by the body’s immune system to help fight infections. Antibodies are made of 2 heavy chains and 2 light chains of proteins. There are 5 different types of heavy chains: A, D, G, E, and M. There are 2 forms of light chains: kappa and lambda. The antibodies made by myeloma cells (monoclonal proteins) are not normal; they proliferate in excess and are not produced in response to an infection. Additionally, monoclonal proteins do not help to fight infections.
The process of taking blood out of the body, separating and removing certain parts of the blood, and then reintroducing the remaining blood back into the body. This process is done in CAR T cell therapy to remove T cells before adding CARs to them. This may also be called leukapheresis.
The formation of a blood clot in the artery that breaks free from its original location.
A type of stem cell transplant in which the patient is a self-donor. Stem cells are removed from the bone marrow or blood and frozen prior to high-dose chemotherapy. The cells are then thawed and reinfused into the patient after the recipient has received high-dose chemotherapy.
Also known as B lymphocyte. B cells are white blood cells that become plasma cells in the bone marrow. B cells are the source of antibodies.
Bence Jones protein
A myeloma monoclonal protein found in urine expressed as g/24 h. (Although the presence of a small amount of other types of protein [<0.1 g/24 h] may be present in urine under normal circumstances, the presence of any Bence Jones protein in urine is abnormal.)
A class of medications that improve bone strength and prevent loss of bone mass caused by myeloma.
Cancer that begins in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, or in the cells of the immune system. Examples of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. This may also be called hematologic cancer.
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
The amount of urea nitrogen (a byproduct that forms when protein breaks down) in your blood. Your doctor may look at your BUN to help monitor how well your kidneys are working. Higher levels of urea nitrogen in your blood may be a sign of decreased kidney function, which is common in people with multiple myeloma.
Soft spongy tissue in the center of bones where blood cell formation occurs.
Bone marrow aspiration
Removal by needle and syringe of a small amount of the liquid portion of the bone marrow to test for disease. It is usually performed in conjunction with bone marrow biopsy.
Bone marrow biopsy
A diagnostic procedure in which a small amount of bone and solid marrow are removed by needle to be tested for cancer. If tests reveal the presence of cancerous plasma cells, the biopsy is used to estimate how much of the bone marrow is affected. A bone marrow biopsy is usually performed in conjunction with bone marrow aspiration.
Bone marrow transplant (BMT)/peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT)/hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)
A medical procedure that may be used as a treatment for multiple myeloma. It restores stem cells in the body when bone marrow has been destroyed. Although BMT and PBSCT differ in the source of the stem cells, both BMT and PBSCT can be called HSCT. In BMT, the source of the stem cells is the bone marrow. In PBSCT, the source of the stem cells is the bloodstream. Multiple myeloma can be treated with HSCT. PBSCT is more common than BMT. (See allogeneic transplant; see autologous transplant.)
A common symptom of multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma can cause soft spots in the bone called osteolytic lesions. These osteolytic lesions can increase the risk of breaks or fractures.
C-reactive protein (CRP)
A protein made by the liver. High levels of CRP mean that there is an inflammatory process occurring in the body.
A mineral stored in the body that is essential for bodily functions. It is primarily stored in bones and teeth. Multiple myeloma causes bone damage and increased calcium in the blood. (See hypercalcemia.)
A treatment option that seeks to use a patient’s immune system to help fight cancer.
CAR T cell
A T cell with the specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) added.
CAR T cell therapy
A type of therapy that adds chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to a person’s own T cells to work with their immune system to find and fight cancers. Some CAR T cell therapies are FDA approved, some are still being studied in clinical trials.
A small structure in the body that makes up all of the body's tissues.
A medication that destroys cancer cells by preferentially destroying dividing cells. Most chemotherapeutic agents travel through the bloodstream and are thus considered systemic.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)
A specific receptor (or hook) that is added to a patient’s T cells that may help them find and fight specific cells.
A medical research study where humans are given an experimental medication to see how the medication works to treat their disease. There are 4 types (phases) of a clinical trial. Phase 1: The new drug is given to a small group of healthy people to determine side effects. Phase 2: The new drug is given to a larger group of people to determine if it is effective and test its safety. Phase 3: The new drug is given to a large group of people to confirm effectiveness, compare it to other treatments, and collect more safety information. Phase 4: Studies done after the drug is available to the public to collect information on how the drug works in specific groups of people and determine if there are long-term side effects.
Complete blood count
A blood test that measures the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. In patients with multiple myeloma, myeloma cells take over the bone marrow and as a result, too few normal blood cells are made.
Complete response (CR)
A treatment response category developed by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG). CR indicates no detectable evidence of tumor in the body.
Computed tomography (CT) scan
An imaging technique that combines many computerized X-rays taken from different angles to create 3-dimensional images of the organs and structures in the body.
An increase in the intensity of treatment to further reduce tumor burden. It is typically used within the context of clinical trials and is not a standard of care.
The common symptoms in patients with multiple myeloma. C=Calcium increase, R=Renal insufficiency, A=Anemia, B=Bone lesions.
A test that measures the rate at which creatinine, a waste product of muscle metabolism, is filtered out of the blood and into the urine. It is used to measure kidney function.
A technique used to visualize chromosomes in cells and thus detect whether abnormalities exist. Cytogenetics may be part of the initial diagnostic tests for multiple myeloma.
A substance secreted by cells of the immune system that stimulates growth and activity of cells. Cytokines are produced in the bone marrow and circulate in the bloodstream.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
A blood clot that forms in a deep vein (usually in the leg) in the body. It may become dislodged, causing problems elsewhere in the body, such as the lung. Signs of DVT include pain or swelling, warmth or tenderness over the vein, and skin redness.
A condition where the body does not have enough fluid to function properly. In patients with multiple myeloma, dehydration may be caused by increased calcium in the blood. (See hypercalcemia.)
A process whereby a person's blood must be filtered through a machine (dialysis machine) because his or her kidneys cannot filter the blood.
A combination of 2 or 3 drugs or therapies taken at the same time to treat multiple myeloma.
Duration of response
The length of time a patient’s disease (or cancer) remains in remission after treatment. It is calculated from the time of first recorded achievement of a particular response level.
A kidney-derived hormone that may be decreased in patients with multiple myeloma. Decreased erythropoietin may lead to anemia.
Myeloma that is located outside of the bone marrow. The presence of extramedullary disease may be associated with poorer patient outcomes.
Severe tiredness despite getting adequate sleep. Fatigue can be a symptom of multiple myeloma.
The initial treatment given for a disease. Also called induction therapy, primary therapy, and primary treatment.
A laboratory technique for identifying and sorting cells. Flow cytometry measures the number and percentage of cells in a blood sample and cell characteristics such as size, shape, and the presence of biomarkers on the cell surface.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
A laboratory technique used to identify the presence or absence of DNA within a cell. The test can be performed on blood and bone marrow and is used to determine the risk level of a patient with multiple myeloma.
Free light chain
Plasma cells make immunoglobulins out of light and heavy chain components. (See antibody.) Plasma cells typically make more light than heavy chains. The excess light chains enter the bloodstream unattached to heavy chains and are called free light chains. The amount of free light chain production is linked to the activity of myeloma or plasma cell growth.
Free light chain assay
A sensitive laboratory test performed on serum to detect increased levels of free light chains. This test is recommended as part of the initial diagnostic workup and to help monitor disease progression.
Gene expression profiling
Biological factors that help guide therapeutic decisions, as well as a patient’s individual risk level.
Globulins are a group of proteins in your blood. They are made in your liver by your immune system. Globulins play an important role in liver function, blood clotting, and fighting infection. There are four main types of globulins. They are called alpha 1, alpha 2, beta, and gamma.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
A test that evaluates how well the kidneys are working. GFR estimates how much blood passes through the glomeruli
(a structure in the kidney that filters blood) each minute.
Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)
A protein normally made by the body that stimulates the bone marrow to make neutrophils. (See neutrophil.) It is also used to prevent or treat neutropenia, or low white blood cell count. (See neutropenia.)
A naturally occurring substance in the body that stimulates the growth of cells. Erythropoietin, a growth factor that stimulates the growth of red blood cells, should be considered for patients with multiple myeloma who are anemic, especially those with renal failure.
The longer protein chain that is part of an antibody/
immunoglobulin. (See antibody.)
The percentage of red blood cells found in the total amount of whole blood. It can be used to check for different conditions such as anemia. Anemia can be a sign that the myeloma cells are taking up most of your bone marrow and not leaving enough space for your normal marrow cells to make red blood cells.
Hematopoietic stem cell
A bone marrow stem cell (primarily in adults) that gives rise to blood cells throughout the life of an organism. (See stem cell.)
A protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the tissues in your body. Your doctor may use your hemoglobin level to help determine the stage of your multiple myeloma.
A condition describing too much calcium in the blood. In multiple myeloma, hypercalcemia can result in bone damage caused by multiple myeloma. Hypercalcemia is usually treated on an emergency basis using intravenous fluids plus drugs that reduce bone destruction and treat multiple myeloma. Signs and symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, thirst, fatigue, muscle weakness, restlessness, and confusion. Calcium elevation >10 mg/dL is a CRAB criterion that indicates end-organ damage associated with active multiple myeloma. (See CRAB criteria.)
An increased viscosity, or thickness, of the blood. Although rare, hyperviscosity can be a complication of multiple myeloma because of the increase in circulating immunoglobulins that occurs in multiple myeloma.
A complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight infections and other diseases.
Immunofixation (serum and urine)
Tests that determine the levels of monoclonal protein. The serum immunofixation electrophoresis test uses blood, and the urine immunofixation electrophoresis test uses urine. They are recommended as part of the initial multiple myeloma diagnostic workup and for disease monitoring.
A test, often performed on the bone marrow, that determines if monoclonal proteins are present and to measure plasma cell involvement.
A class of drugs that modulates the function of the immune system.
A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases.
The initial treatment given to a patient with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma in an effort to achieve remission.
The process of introducing fluids, such as blood or medicine, into the body using an intravenous (IV) method.
A test that analyzes plasma cell chromosomes from the bone marrow aspirate. The test can help identify genetic problems underlying a disease. The test can count the number of chromosomes or look for structural changes in the chromosomes. (See cytogenetics.)
A procedure used to restore support to the spinal column after a vertebral fracture. A balloon-like device is placed in the fractured vertebrae and then inflated. This restores the normal shape and height of the spine. The balloon is removed, and cement is injected to hold the vertebrae in place.
Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
A protein made by myeloma cells. High levels may indicate advanced disease.
The process of taking blood out of the body, removing certain parts of the blood, and then reintroducing the blood back into the body. This process is done in CAR T cell therapy to remove T cells before adding CARs to them. This may also be called apheresis.
Light chain (Bence Jones) myeloma
Myeloma cells that only make free light chains. The light chains are “free” because they are not matched with heavy chains to form a normal antibody. Light chain myeloma is also known as Bence Jones myeloma.
White blood cells that are found throughout your body, including in your lymph nodes, bone marrow, intestines, and blood. There are 2 major types of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells. When a healthy person gets an infection, his or her B cells mature into the plasma cells in the bone marrow that make antibodies (or immunoglobulins) to help the body fight the infection. But when you have multiple myeloma, your B cells become damaged and mature into malignant (or cancerous) multiple myeloma cells instead. This is why your lymphocyte levels may be low if you have multiple myeloma.
A damaged area of a bone that appears as a dark spot on an X-ray. Lytic lesions are evidence of weakened bone and are the result of damage to bone caused by multiple myeloma. (See CRAB criteria.)
Magnetic resonance imaging
An imaging test that uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to produce images of organs and structures within the body.
Mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC)
Measures involving your red blood cells (blood cells that carry oxygen through your body): MCV measures the average size (or volume) of your red blood cells; MCH measures the average amount of hemoglobin (the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen) found in a red blood cell; and MCHC measures the amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells relative to the size of the cell (called hemoglobin concentration). MCV is sometimes used to help monitor multiple myeloma. Your doctor may also use these tests to help diagnose types of anemia.
Minimal residual disease (MRD)
The presence of a small number of myeloma cells in a patient’s body after the patient has responded well to therapy.
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
A benign condition where the M-protein is present, but none of the CRAB diagnostic features are present. (See CRAB criteria.) This condition may progress to multiple myeloma but is not considered a cancer. In MGUS, myeloma cells represent fewer than 10% of a patient’s bone marrow cells.
Monoclonal protein (M-protein)
An antibody made by myeloma cells that is synthesized uncontrollably, as opposed to being produced in response to a germ. M-proteins are found in excessive amounts in the blood or urine of patients with multiple myeloma.
Blood cancer that develops in the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Malignant plasma cells (myeloma cells) accumulate in the bone marrow, causing hallmark features. (See CRAB criteria.)
A malignant (cancerous) plasma cell that accumulates in the bone marrow, resulting in characteristic features of multiple myeloma. (See CRAB criteria.) In multiple myeloma, one type of plasma cell is duplicated excessively, leading to the overproduction of monoclonal protein, which is unable to fight infection and support normal antibody production. Myeloma cells typically secrete monoclonal proteins into the blood and/or urine. (See monoclonal protein.)
A condition where the kidney(s) are damaged by fragments of the abnormal antibodies made by myeloma cells. Myeloma kidney is also referred to as cast nephropathy.
A decrease in the production of red blood cells (anemia), neutrophils (neutropenia), or platelets (thrombocytopenia). Patients with multiple myeloma are at risk for myelosuppression from the disease process and the treatments.
A nerve condition that manifests in pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, or muscle weakness. Neuropathy can be the result of cancer or cancer treatment, physical injury, infection, toxic substances, or chronic disease (eg, diabetes, kidney failure, or malnutrition).
A state of abnormally low neutrophil (infection-fighting white blood cell) count. Neutropenia in adults is generally defined as a neutrophil count ≤1700 neutrophils per microliter of blood. Severe neutropenia is defined as ≤500 neutrophils per microliter of blood. Neutropenia in patients with multiple myeloma may be associated with certain multiple myeloma treatments. Infection is a serious concern when patients have neutropenia.
A type of white blood cell necessary to fight bacterial infections.
Objective response rate (ORR)
A common endpoint in cancer clinical trials. ORR is a measure of the percent of patients who experience a pre-specified reduction in their tumor size.
A cell that produces osteoid, which will become mineralized with calcium to form new bone.
A bone marrow cell that resorbs or breaks down old bone. The overstimulation of osteoclasts is one of the processes responsible for lytic lesions in patients with multiple myeloma.
See lytic lesion.
Reduced bone density that is less severe than osteoporosis. Osteopenia in patients with multiple myeloma may be detected by a bone density test.
A reduction in bone density.
Overall survival (OS)
A common endpoint in cancer clinical trials. OS is a measure of the percent of patients who survive a certain period of time after treatment.
An abnormal sensation of burning, tingling, or pin pricks commonly occurring in the hands, arms, legs, or feet. Patients with multiple myeloma may experience paresthesia as a result of the disease process or associated with treatment.
Partial response (PR)
A treatment response category developed by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) for patients with multiple myeloma. PR is a less favorable response to treatment than stringent complete response (sCR), complete response (CR), or very good partial response (VGPR) but is better than stable disease (SD). PR is defined as having a ≥50% reduction in serum monoclonal protein and a reduction in 24-hour urine monoclonal protein of ≥90% or to <200 mg/24 h. Additionally, a ≥50% reduction in the size of soft tissue plasmacytomas is required if the patient had plasmacytoma at baseline.
A measure of how well a patient is able to perform ordinary tasks and execute daily activities.
A condition resulting from nerve damage that may cause weakness, numbness, and pain, typically in the hands and feet. It may be a complication of multiple myeloma or treatment.
The part of the blood that contains the blood cells.
The most mature form of a B cell that makes proteins to fight infections. Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Plasmacytoma (solitary plasmacytoma)
A condition in which a patient has a single mass of myeloma cells attached to a bone.
A type of blood cell that makes clots and stops bleeding.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
An imaging test that uses radioactive material to see the shape and function of body parts. PET scans can be used to image myeloma cells and may determine the spread of myeloma.
The course and outcome of a disease.
Progression-free survival (PFS)
A common endpoint in clinical trials, PFS measures the time period during which a patient’s cancer does not progress.
Cancer that is proliferating. The International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) has defined progressive disease as having at least one of the following: a 25% increase in serum M-component with an absolute increase of at least 0.5 g/dL; urine M-component with an absolute increase of at least 200 mg per 24 hours; an absolute increase in urine M-protein levels in patients without measurable serum and urine M-protein levels; bone marrow plasma cell percentage of at least 10%; development of new bone lesions or soft tissue plasmacytomas; or development of hypercalcemia.
Medicine given to prevent a disease.
Proteasome inhibitors block the proteasome pathways that play an essential role in regulating the intercellular concentration of proteins; this disruption leads to cell death.
A chain of small chemical compounds that are vital to cells.
A blockage of an artery in the lung most commonly caused by a blood clot. Patients with multiple myeloma are at increased risk for a pulmonary embolism because of the disease and treatments for multiple myeloma. Signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include anxiety, sudden dyspnea, chest discomfort, tachycardia or tachypnea, low fever, pleural friction rub, and wheezing. Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency.
A test used to measure the amount of different types of antibodies (IgG, IgA, and IgM) in blood and urine. Quantitative immunoglobulin testing is recommended as part of the initial diagnostic workup and for follow-up surveillance in multiple myeloma.
A treatment for cancer that uses high-energy particles to destroy cancer cells.
A molecule inside or on the surface of a cell that binds to a specific substance and causes a specific effect in the cell.
Red blood cell
A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.
Red blood cell (RBC) count
A measure of the total number of red blood cells (the cells that carry oxygen through your body) in your blood. A low RBC count can be a sign of multiple myeloma and may be used to help diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also monitor your RBC count to check for anemia (low RBC count), which can be a side effect of some multiple myeloma treatments. Anemia can cause weakness, a reduced ability to exercise, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
Red blood cell distribution width (RBW)
A test that measures the range in the size of red blood cells (blood cells that carry oxygen through your body) in your blood. Your doctor may monitor your RBW to look for signs of anemia.
Refractory multiple myeloma
Multiple myeloma that does not respond to usual therapies. Some patients may respond to treatment soon after (within 60 days of) their last therapy.
The treatment plan that includes the dosage, schedule, and duration of treatment.
The return of a disease or the signs and symptoms of a disease after a patient has experienced improvement.
A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.
Poor function of the kidneys. Renal insufficiency in patients with multiple myeloma is mainly caused by damage to parts of the kidney by light chains. Patients with multiple myeloma are at risk for renal dysfunction.
The measures used to characterize how well a patient responds to multiple myeloma treatment. There are 5 categories of response developed by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG): stringent complete response (sCR), complete response (CR), very good partial response (VGPR), partial response (PR), and stable disease (SD). (See the individual definitions for each criterion.) Progressive disease and clinical relapse are also used to describe a patient’s condition. (See progressive disease; see relapse.)
The therapy given to a patient when initial treatment (first-line therapy) does not work or has stopped working.
Serum free light chain assay
A test that measures small pieces of proteins (free light chains) in the blood that are made by myeloma cells.
Serum immunofixation electrophoresis (SIFE)
A blood test that determines the type of monoclonal proteins in the blood. SIFE is recommended as part of the initial diagnostic workup for multiple myeloma.
Serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP)
A blood test that determines the amount of monoclonal proteins in the blood. SPEP is recommended as part of the initial diagnostic workup for multiple myeloma.
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
The most common type of variation among people. SNP can act as a biological marker and help identify genes associated with disease.
A series of X-rays of the skull, spine, ribs, pelvis, and long bones that shows the loss or thinning of the bone or lytic lesions in patients with multiple myeloma.
Smoldering myeloma (asymptomatic myeloma)
A condition in which the criteria for a diagnosis of myeloma is not met, but the patient is in an early stage of the disease without symptoms.
Spinal cord compression
When pressure is applied to the spinal cord as a result of tumor, spinal fracture, or other condition. In patients with multiple myeloma, spinal cord compression from a plasmacytoma arising from a vertebral body is the most frequent and serious neurologic complication. It can cause pain, weakness, loss of feeling, paralysis, incontinence, and impotence. Spinal cord compression is a medical emergency.
Stable disease (SD)
A disease state where a patient has some response to treatment but a <50% reduction in monoclonal protein levels, and the disease state is neither improving nor getting worse. The International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) has defined SD as not meeting any of the criteria for the other response categories and recommends against using SD as a measure of treatment efficacy.
An immature cell that is able to differentiate to form all other blood cells. Stem cells are typically localized in the bone marrow and can be harvested for transplant.
Stem cell transplant
A type of hormone often given in combination with 1 or more anticancer drugs to help control the effects of the disease on the body. Steroid therapy reduces swelling and inflammation and kills myeloma cells.
Stringent complete response (sCR)
A treatment response category developed by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG). sCR is the highest classification of treatment response and is better than complete response (CR), very good partial response (VGPR), partial response (PR), or stable disease (SD). sCR is defined as the CR criteria (see Complete response), as well as a normal free light chain ratio and the absence of clonal cells in the bone marrow measured by immunohistochemistry or immunofluorescence.
Treatments that help prevent, control, or relieve complications and side effects and improve a patient’s comfort and quality of life.
Showing symptoms or concerning a specific symptom. Symptomatic myeloma, also called active myeloma, is characterized by increased monoclonal plasma cells in the bone marrow (>10%) and/or presence of a biopsy-proven plasmacytoma; monoclonal protein present in serum and/or urine; and 1 or more of the following CRAB features: Calcium elevation, Renal dysfunction, Anemia, or Bone disease. (See CRAB criteria).
A treatment that travels through the bloodstream, reaching and affecting cancer cells throughout the body. Primary treatments for multiple myeloma are often systemic and include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and steroids.
A type of white blood cell that are key fighters in the immune system. T cells can be modified to help fight certain cancers.
Tandem stem cell transplant
A type of autologous transplant involving a second stem cell transplant and a second round of high-dose chemotherapy. Tandem stem cell transplant is typically given within 6 months of the first transplant.
A treatment that targets cancer cells and stops their growth.
A low number of platelets in the blood. Normal levels range from 150,000 to 250,000. Bleeding may occur with platelet counts lower than 50,000. Major bleeding is usually associated with platelet counts of <10,000. Thrombocytopenia is a side effect of some antimyeloma drugs.
The blocking of a blood vessel by a particle that has broken away from a blood clot at its site of formation.
Time to progression
The time from randomization until objective tumor progression, excluding deaths.
Substance in the blood that can be used to confirm that cancer is present.
Urine immunofixation electrophoresis (UIFE)
A test that determines the type of monoclonal proteins in the urine. UIFE is recommended as part of the initial diagnostic workup for multiple myeloma.
Urine protein electrophoresis (UPEP)
A test that determines the amount of monoclonal protein in the urine. UPEP is recommended as part of the initial diagnostic workup for multiple myeloma.
A biologic agent administered into the body to prevent disease.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Blood clots in the veins. VTEs can be either a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE). Patients with multiple myeloma are at increased risk for DVTs and PEs, because of both the disease and treatment. (See deep vein thrombosis; see pulmonary embolus.)
Very good partial response (VGPR)
A treatment response category developed by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG). VGPR is a less favorable response to treatment than stringent complete response (sCR) or complete response (CR) but is better than partial response (PR) or stable disease (SD). VGPR is defined as monoclonal protein levels detectable by immunofixation but not electrophoresis in serum and urine. Additionally, VGPR is defined by a ≥90% reduction in serum monoclonal protein and a monoclonal protein level in urine of <100 mg/24 h.
White blood cell
A blood cell that fights infection.
White blood cell (WBC) count
The total number of white blood cells in a sample of your blood. White blood cells help to protect your body by fighting against foreign materials such as bacteria and viruses. Multiple myeloma and its treatment can cause a drop in white blood cells, which can leave you at greater risk of infection. Your doctor may monitor your WBC count and adjust treatment as needed.
A type of radiation used to detect and treat diseases. In large amounts, x-rays are used to treat cancer.