Plasma cell cancer affects organs and bones

This is a cancer that forms in the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell formed in the bone marrow and important for fighting infection. With multiple myeloma, the plasma cells behave abnormally, releasing too much immunoglobulin (a type of protein) into the bones and blood, which leads to organ damage. This abnormal plasma cell activity also causes the release of chemicals that further damage and weaken the bones.

There is no known cause for multiple myeloma but risk of the disease is higher in African Americans. It is also more common in men and people of advanced age (60s+).

Symptoms may include:

  • Bone pain in the spine or chest
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent infections
  • Nausea
  • Weakness

To diagnose your condition, your doctor will perform a complete physical exam and review of your medical history. Certain blood and urine tests may be ordered, such as complete blood count, electrophoresis, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and bone marrow biopsy. Your doctor may also wish to test for bone damage using X-ray, MRI, CT or PET scan.

If you are diagnosed with multiple myeloma, your doctor will go over your test results and discuss treatment options with you. Depending on your age, overall health, and the stage of disease, treatment may include medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and in some cases, stem cell transplant.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.