Myeloma is a type of blood cancer, which affects the plasma cells in the blood. Plasma cells are white blood cells. As a normal process in body, production of new plasma cells takes place to replace old and worn out plasma cells. This is a controlled process, which takes place in an orderly manner. Myeloma affects this process and it gets awry. As a result a large numbers of abnormal plasma cells or myeloma cells start producing. They are responsible for production of antibodies in the body which fight diseases and infections. Myeloma cells production starts in the bone marrow, which is a soft tissue and is found inside bones. Myeloma cells are capable of travelling through the blood stream and they can accumulate in bones throughout the body. Myeloma can frequently occur at many places in the bone marrow simultaneously, thus it is also called as multiple myeloma. The other name for Myeloma is Myelomatosis. Sometimes abnormal plasma cells are found in a bone in only one area of the body. This condition is called solitary plasmacytoma.

When Myeloma cells starts developing in plasma cells, it starts hindering the normal process of production of antibodies. Thus patients with Myeloma have a weak immune system and are vulnerable to any type of infection. Myeloma cells also affect the normal production of red and white blood cells. Due to this, normal functioning of red and white blood cells get disturbed. It causes abnormally high amount of dysfunctional antibodies in the bloodstream. It could result into severe health complications such as kidney damage or adverse effect on other body organs. Presence of Myeloma cells in blood also causes bone destruction as it produces a substance, which could damage bones. Patients of Myeloma may suffer pain or fractures in bones due to this.

The single type of abnormal antibody, which is produced in large number by Myeloma cells, is known as a Paraprotein or M protein. It affects production of normal antibodies and is not capable of fighting infections and diseases.

Types of myeloma

Myeloma can be of various types. The primary basis of classification of types of Myeloma is the type of immunoglobulin (Ig) produced by the myeloma cells. IgG is the most common type of myeloma. In this type of Myeloma the heavy chain of the immunoglobulin G is produced. Nearly 60% of Myeloma patients suffer from this type of Myeloma. Other common type is IgA, which affects around 30% 0f Myeloma patients.

There are some rare types of Myeloma too such as IgD, IgE and IgM. Treatment for Myeloma is not hugely influenced by the type of this disease, but different types of Myeloma could affect its patients differently.

Around one third of Myeloma produces light chains of proteins or immunoglobulin only. This is known as Bence Jones myeloma. Other type called non-secretory myeloma is identified with little or no immunoglobulin production. Some other plasma cells conditions such as monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance or MGUS, smouldering myeloma or asymptomatic myeloma may also lead to Myeloma. Patients with these conditions should go for tests of Myeloma.

Hypercalcemia or excessive calcium in the blood and Anaemia or shortage or reduced function of red blood cells could possibly be indication of starting of Myeloma cells production in the body. So they should not be taken lightly.

Causes and risk factors of myeloma

Diagnosis and Staging Of Myeloma

Treatment of Myeloma