Myeloma is a cancer that begins in plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that fight infection as part of the immune system. Abnormal, cancerous plasma cells are called myeloma cells. Myeloma cells can weaken the immune system, interfere with blood cell production, damage the kidneys and weaken bones. Because myeloma cells collect at many sites in the bone marrow, the disease is often referred to as “multiple myeloma.”

Some people, including those who are male, or African-American, have higher risk factors for myeloma than others do.

Treatment options

People with multiple myeloma often find out about their disease because of symptoms such as constipation, fatigue, frequent thirst and urination, muscle weakness or bone pain. Some people may not experience any symptoms. Multiple myeloma is often found during routine blood and urine tests.

Spectrum Health has one of the most sophisticated diagnostic laboratories in the country—often allowing us to make a diagnosis in just a few hours to a few days. This is significantly faster than most cancer centers.

Active monitoring
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Also called "watchful waiting," you can forego the side effects of treatment with careful monitoring of the stage of this cancer.

Blood and marrow transplantation
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This process delivers healthy blood or bone marrow (as stem cells) to replace unhealthy bone marrow. Before the transplant, intensive treatment will kill as many cancer cells as possible to set the stage for new bone marrow growth.

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This well-known cancer treatment uses medicines taken intravenously or by mouth to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink tumors, or after to fight cancer cells that have potentially spread.

Radiation oncology
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A team of medical professionals with advanced training deliver radiation treatment and care.

A Powerful Second Opinion

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and would like a consultation or second opinion.