Myeloma is a blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow, and is classified into different types based on the stage of the disease.

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

MGUS is diagnosed when a type of protein, called M protein, is detected in the blood. This protein is made in the bone marrow. Usually, MGUS has no symptoms and no treatment is required. However, patients should be screened regularly as MGUS can develop into more serious conditions. MGUS occurs in about 1% of the general population; in about 1% to 2% of these cases, MGUS develops into myeloma.

Solitary plasmacytoma

A single group of myeloma cells in the bone or soft tissue or a single lesion is called a solitary or isolated plasmacytoma. Solitary plasmacytomas can occur in any bone, but most frequently occur in the bones of the spine.

Solitary plasmacytoma can be detected by X-ray imaging, positron-emission tomography scan, or magnetic resonance imaging. The malignant cells are then identified via biopsy where a needle is inserted into the bone or soft tissue to collect a sample of the cells, which can then be tested. Blood test results and kidney function are usually normal in these patients.

Solitary plasmacytoma is very rare, found in about 5% of plasma cell diseases. It is treated with radiation therapy and usually does not require surgery. Although the prognosis is good, solitary plasmacytoma may return and progress to myeloma. Patients should, therefore, be screened regularly following treatment.

Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM)

Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) is a pre-cancerous form of myeloma that is more severe than MGUS. About 15% of newly diagnosed myeloma cases are SMM.

SMM is diagnosed by the detection of low levels of M protein in the blood and an increased number of abnormal cells in the bone marrow. Patients may also have several small lesions in their bones.

Many — but not all — SMM patients progress to myeloma. About 10% of SMM patients develop myeloma each year in the first five years after diagnosis. Between five and 10 years after diagnosis, the risk drops to about 3% and is roughly 1% in subsequent years.

The treatment for SMM has previously been “watchful waiting,” but studies are showing that treating patients before symptoms appear may slow down the progression to cancer, especially in those who are genetically predisposed to myeloma.

Multiple myeloma

Myeloma is the result of the abnormal growth and division of a type of white blood cell called B-cells. Because it usually affects several bone marrow sites, the disease is also known as multiple myeloma.

More than 90% of patients have multiple lesions at the time of diagnosis. Patients also have increased levels of M protein and abnormal plasma cells or activated B-cells in the blood. These abnormal plasma cells may also be present in the urine.

Patients may develop anemiakidney failure, hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood), and osteoporosis (weak, easily damaged bones), among other symptoms.

 

Last updated: Feb. 27, 2020

***

Myeloma Research News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Emily holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas. Emily is passionate about science communication, and, in her free time, writes and illustrates children’s stories.
Total Posts: 1
Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
×
Emily holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas. Emily is passionate about science communication, and, in her free time, writes and illustrates children’s stories.
Latest Posts
    The User does not have any posts