Bone marrow is a gelatinous material inside our bones, which makes various types of blood cells like red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Cancer of the plasma cells (a type of white blood cell) is called myeloma. Plasma cells protect the body against infections by making antibodies. The plasma cells grow inside the bone marrow, obliterating other healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This leads to low RBC and platelet count causing anemia, bruises, and bleeding issues. Abnormal plasma cells make abnormal antibodies, which weakens the immune system. They damage the bone and cause bone pain and fractures. Myeloma information reveals no specific cause, but there are certain risk factors associated with the disease. These are as follows:
  • It affects older people. The average age of diagnosis is 60-65 years according to myeloma information available across different sources.
  • It is twice as common among African-Americans as compared to Caucasians and Asians.
  • Males appear to be at higher risk as compared to women.
  • There is an association with another condition called monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS). This is a rare condition in which there are abnormal large protein molecules called immunoglobulins in the blood. This does not cause any symptoms, and no treatments are required, but the risk of developing myeloma is very high according to available myeloma information.
  • A family history of myeloma or MGUS increases the risk of developing myeloma.
  • Exposure to high levels of radiations or chemicals like Agent Orange, pesticides and fertilizers increase the chances of developing myeloma.
  • Patients who have undergone organ transplant and are on medication to lower the immunity have 1% chance of developing myeloma.
  • Some autoimmune disorders like ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and systemic lupus erythematosus might also increase the risk of myeloma.
  • Myeloma information has shown a strong correlation with a rare genetic disorder called Gaucher disease. There is a build-up of fatty substances in various organs in this disease.
  • Obesity increases the risk of developing myeloma.
Going through this myeloma information will help you understand if you have any symptoms or any associated risk factors for the disease. In case you do, consult a specialist at the earliest.