Multiple Myeloma (MY-eh-LOH-muh) also called Plasma Cell Myeloma, Bone Marrow Cancer or Smoldering Myeloma.
Multiple myeloma cancer begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. These cells are part of your immune system, which helps protect the body from germs and other harmful substances. In time, plasma myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow and in the solid parts of bone to become plasmacytoma. Plasmacytoma is plasma cell myeloma as a single lesion or tumor. When the plasma cell myeloma develops into multiple lesions it becomes multiple myeloma. Often multiple myeloma symptoms go unnoticed, delaying a myeloma prognosis.
Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the United States and, sadly that population is growing, climbing to 6.36 cases per 100,000 people in 2010 from 5.6 per 100,000 in 1993. Over in the UK, more than 4,600 new cases are diagnosed annually, or 5.4 people per 100,000 are diagnosed countrywide. And, across Europe, the incidence rate is 3.8 cases per 100,000. Given the disease is primarily diagnosed in older patients, with a median age of diagnosis around 70 years, a longer living global population suggests the need for effective treatments is growing, not shrinking.
The five-year survival rate (percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases) of people with multiple myeloma is about 43%. However, several factors affect an individual’s survival, such as the person’s age and overall health. For instance, it is known that survival rates are higher in younger people than in older people. That’s why cancer survival statistics should be interpreted with caution. These estimates are based on data from thousands of people with this type of cancer, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ. It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with multiple myeloma. Because the survival statistics are measured in five-year intervals, they may not represent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of this cancer.
Living with a Multiple Myeloma Prognosis
This deadly form of cancer has no known 100% cure. However, with proper cancer treatments many multiple myeloma patients can lead fairly normal lives by using various medications that are proving to be very successful in the containment of the plasma cancer cells and control of multiple myeloma symptoms.
Early Multiple Myeloma Symptoms May Include:
- Bone pain, often in the back or ribs
- Broken bones
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- Repeated infections
- Loss of energy
For more information about myeloma, please visit the IMF website.