Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma
Frequently Asked Questions
What is multiple myeloma?
- Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell which produces antibodies to help fight infection,2 and originates in bone marrow.11
- People living with multiple myeloma might experience bone pain, fatigue, restlessness or weakness, confusion, infections, constipation, nausea and vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite, and weight loss.12
How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?
- It’s difficult to diagnose multiple myeloma early because it often causes no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. Sometimes, multiple myeloma might cause vague symptoms that at first seem to be caused by other diseases.13
- Multiple myeloma can be found early when a routine blood test shows an abnormally high amount of protein in the blood.13
- If symptoms suggest that a person might have multiple myeloma, more tests are done to confirm. These tests may include14
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- A diagnosis requires a plasma cell tumor (proven by biopsy) OR at least 10% plasma cells in the bone marrow AND at least one of the following14:
- High blood calcium level
- Poor kidney function
- Low red blood cell counts (anemia)
- Holes in the bones from tumor found on imaging studies (CT, MRI, PET scan)
- Increase in one type of light chain in the blood so that one type is 100 times more common than the other
- 60% or more plasma cells in the bone marrow
What should I do if I think I have multiple myeloma?
- If you suspect that you may have multiple myeloma, you will need to talk with your doctor about any symptoms you are having. Your doctor will conduct some additional tests to confirm if you have multiple myeloma.
- If you are interested in learning more about multiple myeloma, getting answers to your questions, and finding support, visit the Resources page to find more information about the advocacy community.