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Multiple myeloma

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on July 14, 2021.

Multiple myeloma is a complex disease. Know your options.

Multiple myeloma is cancer that develops in the plasma cells. A type of white blood cell found mainly in the bone marrow, plasma cells help the immune system fight off infection by making antibodies that help kill germs. When cancer grows in these cells, it causes an excess of abnormal plasma cells, which form tumors in multiple locations throughout the bone marrow and crowd out and prevent the production of normal blood cells. This often leads to low blood counts, impairing the body’s ability to fight off infection. The disease generally doesn’t produce symptoms until it has advanced, so it typically isn’t diagnosed until it has spread. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our multidisciplinary care team of medical oncologists, hematologists and supportive care clinicians work together to diagnose the disease in an efficient, timely manner and explain the treatment options available to you, so you can make more informed decisions about your care.

What you should know after a multiple myeloma diagnosis

Treatment options

close-up of scientist evaluating lab test vials for multiple myeloma testing

Various treatments are used for multiple myeloma. Which is appropriate for you generally depends on the symptoms you are experiencing, among other factors. Patients with early-stage multiple myeloma with no symptoms, for example, may be closely monitored by their doctor, through an approach called active surveillance. Those with symptoms may be treated with chemotherapy or targeted therapy, and sometimes, stem cell transplantation. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy, interventional radiology and surgery, may also be recommended in certain circumstances.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy for multiple myeloma is generally given in combination with other drugs to fight the disease and prevent recurrence.

Interventional radiology
Interventional radiology may be used to relieve pain during treatment.

Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy for multiple myeloma is used when plasma cells have grown into the bone marrow and caused bone damage and pain.

Stem cell transplantation
A stem cell transplant may be used for multiple myeloma patients to help infuse bone marrow with healthy cells.

Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy may be used alone or in combination with other therapies to treat the disease.

Learn more about treatments for multiple myeloma

Supportive care

Multiple myeloma patients may experience disease- or treatment-related side effects, including anemia, aches and pains in the neck and back, headaches, difficulty walking, fatigue and peripheral neuropathy. Supportive care therapies for multiple myeloma patients may include:

rehabilitation

​Oncology rehabilitation

​Oncology rehabilitation includes a wide range of therapies designed to help you build strength and endurance.

nutrition

​Nutritional support

Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian.

mind_body

Behavioral health

​Our behavioral health support program is designed to support you and your caregivers before, during and after cancer treatment.

Adrain M

Adrian M.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

"I am thankful for CTCA. I felt genuine concern and empathy from the doctors and nurses. No one made me feel silly about the questions I had, and they were all thoughtfully answered. As I continue my care at CTCA, I know my doctors and everyone there truly cares about me and my well-being. I am not just a number—they all know me and my family. That alone is extraordinary to me."

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