What is multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma (also called myeloma) is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow. About 361 people are diagnosed with myeloma in Ireland every year. There are several treatments that can slow down and control multiple myeloma very well. In 2019, around 2,000 people were living with myeloma in Ireland.
When you have myeloma, abnormal plasma cells are made in your bone marrow. These abnormal cells are called myeloma cells.
- Healthy plasma cells. Produce antibodies (immunoglobulins) to fight infection and keep you healthy.
- Abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells). Usually produce a lot of abnormal antibodies called paraproteins (or M protein). Paraproteins can reduce the amount of healthy antibodies being made, so you will be more likely to get sick. The myeloma cells build up in the bone marrow, leaving less room for normal plasma cells to develop. This causes complications and symptoms, such as bone pain, fractures, infections, reduced kidney function and reduced numbers of red and white blood cells.
Why is it called multiple myeloma?
Myeloma normally affects more than one bone. For this reason, myeloma is often called multiple myeloma because it affects multiple places.
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