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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 233-237

Multiple myeloma, the plasma cell cancer: An overview

1 Department of Medical Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Babylon, Hilla, Iraq
2 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Babylon, Hilla, Iraq

Correspondence Address:
Basim A Abd
Department of Medical Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Babylon, Hilla
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/MJBL.MJBL_20_20

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Multiple myeloma (MM), also known as plasma cell myeloma, is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cells that normally produce antibodies. The word myeloma is from the Greek (myelo), meaning “marrow” and (oma), meaning “tumor.” It usually occurs around the age of 60 and is more common in men than women. It is uncommon before the age of 40. Usually, no symptoms are noticed initially. As the disease progresses, bone pain, bleeding, frequent infections, and anemia may occur. The cause of this disease is unknown. Risk factors include obesity, radiation exposure, family history, and certain chemicals. The abnormal plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies, which can cause kidney problems and overly thick blood. The plasma cells can also form a mass in the bone marrow or soft tissue. When one tumor is present, it is called a plasmacytoma; more than one is called MM. MM is diagnosed based on blood or urine tests finding abnormal antibodies, bone marrow biopsy finding cancerous plasma cells, and medical imaging finding bone lesions. Another common finding is high blood calcium levels. MM is considered treatable, but generally incurable. Remissions may be brought about with steroids, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and stem cell transplant. Radiation therapy is sometimes used to reduce pain from bone lesions.

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