Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer. At Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute, we have a team of specialists who focus on diagnosing and treating this cancer. They offer you the latest medical advances in a caring, supportive environment.

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute provides every tool needed to accurately diagnose and stage myeloma. Your care team uses the information from your diagnostic tests to choose the most appropriate treatments for you. Their goal — eliminate cancer cells plus control tumor growth and any pain you might experience. With experts from many different areas of medicine, we are at your side from diagnosis through treatment and life beyond cancer.

What is multiple myeloma?

Myeloma is a cancer that affects a type of white blood cells called plasma cells. The condition occurs in your bone marrow, where plasma cells are made. But myeloma can affect other parts of your body, including your muscles, heart, digestive tract and kidneys.

Plasma cells are responsible for producing antibodies — blood proteins that destroy bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause illness.

Medical illustration of multiple myeloma.

With myeloma, changes in your bone marrow or genetic information (DNA) in plasma cells cause these cells to grow abnormally and take over your bone marrow. Eventually, your body becomes unable to produce healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

Physicians use the term multiple myeloma to describe this condition because tumors may grow in multiple locations inside — and sometimes outside of — your bone marrow.

Recognizing Multiple Myeloma

It’s possible to have multiple myeloma for years before realizing it. Blood tests that show high levels of protein may suggest you could have the condition. But often, there are no early symptoms of the disease, or if common symptoms such as back pain do occur, they’re easy to pass off as something else, like arthritis. Multiple myeloma can also have symptoms similar to other conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and Lyme disease.

By the time symptoms become clearer to you and your physician, your cancer may already be at an advanced stage. There is no cure for multiple myeloma. But there are treatments that can help control the disease. Many people live for years — sometimes 10 or more — after their diagnosis. Overall, people with multiple myeloma are about 58 percent as likely as those without the disease to be alive five years after their diagnosis.

Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors

Myeloma is more common in older adults, men and African Americans.

Some studies show a slightly increased risk in people who are exposed to large amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, petrochemicals, sawdust or heavy metals.

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