Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow, involving the plasma cells. Plasma cells function to produce antibodies to destroy germs and protect against infection. With myeloma, the plasma cells function becomes impaired, and response to infection is compromised. These tumors arise most commonly in the bone marrow of the thigh, back, pelvis or upper arms. They are more common in men, particularly between the ages of 50 and 70. As the tumors enlarge, they may destroy or weaken the bones in which they grow. There is a suggestion that a virus may be associated with multiple myeloma. If a large portion of the bone marrow becomes involved with this disorder, anemia may develop.
Causes of Multiple Myeloma
The etiology of multiple myeloma is not known. Bone pain is produced by changes in the marrow and weakening of the bones. Pathological fractures also produce pain. Anemia and bleeding is caused by the normal bone marrow being replaced by cancerous plasma cells.
Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Back pain or bone pain occurs over the bones that are involved. If the bones are weakened enough, they may break. This can lead to unexplained fractures or fractures that occur with minimal trauma. Anemia will produce generalized weakness, rapid or irregular heart rate, pallor, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance. Bleeding and easy bruising may occur. Increased susceptibility to infection may develop. Weight loss ma occur.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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