Multiple myeloma, also known as myeloma or plasma cell myeloma, is a hematological cancer, meaning it develops in the blood. Multiple myeloma is the second most common cancer of the blood. About 60,000 people have this disease and 20,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. The peak age of disease onset is 65 years of age, but recent statistics indicate the disease is becoming more prevalent and that people are getting the disease at younger ages.
In multiple myeloma, the body produces too many plasma or myeloma cells. These cells produce antibodies that the body doesn't need, which can form tumors and cause other problems, such as bone fractures and kidney failure.
Although the cause of multiple myeloma is unknown, a number of possible associations between myeloma and a decline in the immune system, genetic factors, certain occupations, exposure to certain chemicals and radiation, and a certain virus have been suggested.
Myeloma has always been thought of as fatal, but recent progress has resulted in longer survival rates and possibly even some cures.
Our Approach to Multiple Myeloma
UCSF is dedicated to delivering the most advanced treatments for multiple myeloma with care and compassion. We offer a variety of therapies, ranging from stem cell transplantation to medications that target the cancer on several fronts. With treatment, we can extend patients' lives, relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Patients who aren't experiencing symptoms may not need immediate treatment but require careful monitoring.
We are also dedicated to discovering better treatments for multiple myeloma through research. We encourage patients to participate in clinical trials that may lead to improved options for all people with multiple myeloma.
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UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.