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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Multiple myeloma


Other Names for this Disease
  • Plasma cell myeloma
  • Kahler disease
  • Myelomatosis
  • Plasma cell dyscrasia
  • Myeloma - multiple
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Cause

Newline Maker

What causes multiple myeloma?

Although the exact underlying cause of multiple myeloma is poorly understood, the specific symptoms of the condition result from abnormal and excessive growth of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells help the body fight infection by producing proteins called antibodies. In people with multiple myeloma, excess plasma cells form tumors in the bone, causing bones to become weak and easily broken. The abnormal growth of plasma cells also makes it more difficult for the bone marrow to make healthy blood cells and platelets. The plasma cells produced in multiple myeloma produce abnormal antibodies that the immune system is unable to use. These abnormal antibodies build up in the body and cause a variety of problems.[1][2][3]

Factors that are associated with an increased risk of developing multiple myeloma include increasing age, male sex, African American race, radiation exposure, a family history of the condition, obesity, and/or a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).[4][2][3]
Last updated: 3/10/2016

References
  1. Multiple Myeloma. MedlinePlus. February 2015; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000583.htm.
  2. Multiple Myeloma. American Cancer Society. January 2016; http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/MultipleMyeloma/DetailedGuide/index.
  3. Multiple Myeloma. Mayo Clinic. December 2015; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-myeloma/basics/definition/con-20026607.
  4. Dhaval Shah, MD. Multiple Myeloma. Medscape Reference. February 2016; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/204369-overview.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Plasma cell myeloma
  • Kahler disease
  • Myelomatosis
  • Plasma cell dyscrasia
  • Myeloma - multiple
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.