Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow, the soft, spongy center of most bones. It occurs when a type of bone marrow cells that help fight infection, called plasma cells, begin behaving in a way that leads to multiple tumors within the bone marrow space. As the disease progresses within the marrow, the overgrowth of cancer cells tends to crowd out normal cells, preventing the production of normal levels of red and white blood cells, as well as a type of blood cells called platelets. Resulting symptoms can include recurrent infections, anemia, bruising, and bleeding. The affected bone marrow space weakens with time, resulting in destruction of the bones of the spine, pelvic bones, ribs, and areas of the shoulders and hips. Multiple myeloma is unique compared to other blood diseases in that it often causes a range of symptoms such as destructive bone lesions, kidney failure, and high calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcemia), which can lead to weakness, confusion, stupor, and coma. The cause is not known, but risk for the disease increases with age, men are more likely to develop it than women, and African-Americans are more than twice as likely to develop it as Americans of European descent.


Caring for patients with multiple myeloma involves specialized management of the multiple organ systems affected by the disease. Supported by the resources within the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, UAB Medicine clinicians collaborate with local physicians, offering patients updated treatment recommendations and access to advanced research. Newly diagnosed and established patients alike have access to a team of physicians with expertise in the fields of hematology/oncology, bone marrow transplantation, nephrology, cardiology, interventional radiology, radiation/oncology, and orthopaedics. Our consultations include a streamlined, comprehensive assessment and therapeutic recommendations from the time of initial diagnosis throughout the treatment course. UAB Medicine also is engaged in ongoing research to identify causes of the disease and learn more about how it develops.






UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of Multiple Myeloma. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

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