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Multiple Myeloma - Multiple myeloma is cancer that begins in the blood's plasma cells. Made in the bone marrow (the soft, inner part of some bones), plasma cells are a type of white blood cell (B lymphocyte) that produces antibodies (e.g., monoclonal proteins or M proteins), which fight infection. Multiple myeloma causes an excess of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells), which form tumors in multiple locations throughout the bone marrow. These tumors begin to overcrowd the bone marrow and prevent normal reproduction of healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Multiple myeloma can interfere with the functioning of the bone marrow and immune system, as well as the kidneys. It can also cause damage and weaken the hard part of the bones, causing bone lesions (due to high levels of calcium in the blood, or hypercalcemia). Although it only accounts for one percent of overall cancers, multiple myeloma is the second most prevalent blood cancer after non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Also called Kahler disease, myelomatosis, or plasma cell myeloma.
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