Multiple myeloma types

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on June 6, 2022.

Multiple myeloma has many types, each based on the type of immunoglobulin (protein) produced by myeloma cells (malignant plasma cells).

Although multiple myeloma affects the bones, it begins in cells of the bone marrow, which is why it is often called bone marrow cancer. Therefore, multiple myeloma is different from bone cancer, which begins in cells that form the hard, outer part of the bone.

Smoldering multiple myeloma

Smoldering myeloma (also called asymptomatic myeloma) is a slow-growing type of multiple myeloma characterized by increased plasma cells in the bone marrow and the presence of monoclonal proteins, without the presence of symptoms.

Smoldering myeloma typically uses a “watch and wait” approach, which delays treatment until the disease progresses, with close monitoring of diagnostic tests.

Next topic: What are the stages of multiple myeloma?

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