Early diagnosis essential
Chris Frasco battled multiple myeloma for eight years with intensive chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants and targeted therapy. When the therapy stopped working, Chris sought a second opinion and learned she qualified for a rare third stem cell transplant. Read Chris' story.
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that are part of your immune system. They are found in your body tissue, mostly in the bone marrow.
In myeloma, a developing plasma cell becomes malignant. As the number of malignant plasma cells increases, normal blood cell production is disrupted. This destroys normal bone tissue and causes pain. This process often includes the production of a paraprotein, which can cause kidney problems and weaken your immune system.
Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in the bone marrow that makes antibodies and promotes bone repair. It can form in multiple locations within the body and is the most common form of myeloma. It affects more than 90 percent of people with myeloma. Multiple myeloma is the third most common blood cancer after lymphoma and leukemia.
Although the exact cause of multiple myeloma is unknown, we do know certain risk factors such as:
- People 50 and older are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than those under 40.
- More men develop multiple myeloma than women.
- African-Americans are more than twice as likely to develop multiple myeloma than whites.
- Conditions such as MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) can lead to multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma usually presents no symptoms until advanced stages. One risk factor, MGUS, is a noncancerous condition that can progress into multiple myeloma. It is typically diagnosed during routine blood tests. Although there is no treatment, we monitor MGUS patients to know if and when it becomes multiple myeloma.
Types of multiple myeloma include:
- Smoldering (asymptomatic) myeloma, which progresses slowly and has no symptoms.
- Symptomatic myeloma, which has related symptoms such as anemia, kidney damage and bone disease.
Why you should choose The University of Kansas Cancer Center
If you have myeloma, you will find the leading specialists you need at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Our interdisciplinary team of oncologists and hematologists have years of experience treating patients with all types of myeloma. Other very specialized doctors who may be involved in your care include radiation oncologists and the bone marrow transplant team.
Because we are an academic center, we offer some of the region's most advanced cancer treatments. We are constantly finding new treatments to improve lives. We use state-of-the-art techniques and technologies to improve patient outcomes and reduce side effects. We also use the latest findings in cancer research. Treatment options incorporate the latest chemotherapies, biological therapies and radiation treatments. We also perform blood and marrow transplantation.
Our staff also are accustomed to working with community healthcare providers. In many cases, you can receive some of your treatment near your own home in coordination with the staff at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.
Each person is unique, so we tailor your care to your personal needs. Our doctors, nurses and other staff work together and discuss your treatment to ensure a continuum of care from diagnosis through recovery.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer center
Through laboratory research and clinical studies, we provide patients the most advanced cancer therapies available. Most important, NCI designation means you and other patients in our community don’t have to travel out of state to find the most advanced care and clinical trials – they are available close to home.
As an NCI-designated Cancer Center, we lead or participate in many national clinical trials on cancer treatment. You also may be able to take part in a clinical trial for myeloma during your treatment. Learn more.
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