Disease Information for Multiple myeloma: Definition

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  • A malignant tumor of plasma cells usually arising in the bone marrow; characterized by diffuse involvement of the skeletal system, hyperglobulinemia, Bence-Jones proteinuria, and anemia; Myeloma, Multiple; Kahler Disease; Myelomatosis; Plasma Cell Myeloma; Subdivisions; Extramedullary Plasmacytoma; Nonsecretory Myeloma; Osteosclerotic Myeloma; Plasma Cell Leukemia; Smoldering Myeloma; Solitary Plasmacytoma of Bone; Multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer characterized by excessive production (proliferation) and improper function of certain cells (plasma cells) found in the bone marrow; Plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow and eventually enter the bloodstream; Excessive plasma cells may eventually mass together to form a tumor or tumors in various sites of the body, especially the bone marrow; If only a single tumor is present, the term solitary plasmocytoma is used; When multiple tumors are present, the term multiple myeloma is used; Plasma cells are a key component of the immune system and secrete a substance known as myeloma proteins (M-proteins), a type of antibody; Antibodies are special proteins that the body produces to combat invading microorganisms, toxins, or other foreign substances; Overproduction of plasma cells in affected individuals results in abnormally high levels of these proteins within the body; Major symptoms of multiple myeloma may include bone pain, especially in the back and the ribs; low levels of circulating red blood cells (anemia) resulting in weakness, fatigue, and lack of color (pallor); and kidney (renal) abnormalities; In most cases, affected individuals are more susceptible to bacterial infections such as pneumonia; The exact cause of multiple myeloma is unknown;(NORD 2005)

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