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NORD is very grateful to Morie A. Gertz, MD, Hematology and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, for assistance in the preparation of this report.
Synonyms of Multiple Myeloma
- Kahler disease
- plasma cell myeloma
- extramedullary plasmacytoma
- nonsecretory myeloma
- osteosclerotic myeloma
- plasma cell leukemia
- smoldering myeloma
- solitary plasmacytoma of bone
Multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer (1% of malignancy) characterized by excessive production (proliferation) and improper function of certain cells (plasma cells) found in the bone marrow. Plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow and normally reside there. Excessive plasma cells may eventually mass together to form a tumor or tumors in various sites of the body, especially the bone marrow. If only a single tumor is present, the term solitary plasmacytoma is used. When multiple tumors are present, the term multiple myeloma is used. Plasma cells are a key component of the immune system and secrete a substance known as immunoglobulin proteins (M-proteins), a type of antibody. Antibodies are special proteins that the body produces to combat invading microorganisms, toxins, or other foreign substances. Overproduction of plasma cells in affected individuals results in abnormally high levels of these proteins within the body, referred to as M proteins
Major symptoms of multiple myeloma may include bone pain, especially in the back and the ribs; low levels of circulating red blood cells (anemia) resulting in weakness, fatigue, and lack of color (pallor); and kidney (renal) abnormalities. In some cases, affected individuals are more susceptible to bacterial infections such as pneumonia. The cause of multiple myeloma is unknown.
Multiple Myeloma Resources
NORD offers an online community for this rare disease. RareConnect was created by EURORDIS (European Rare Disease Organisation) and NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) to provide a safe space where individuals and families affected by rare diseases can connect with each other, share vital experiences, and find helpful information and resources. You can view these international, rare disease communities at www.rareconnect.org.
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