Myeloma

Myeloma is a blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow cells (plasma cells).

 

Myeloma is a blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow cells (plasma cells). It can start in more than one place, so it’s sometimes called multiple myeloma. It’s more common in men, and around 5,500 people are diagnosed with myeloma each year in the UK.

What is myeloma?

Myeloma can develop anywhere there’s bone marrow such as the spine, pelvis, ribs and skull. Healthy plasma cells produce different antibodies that help to fight various infections. There are normally five different types of antibody. If you have myeloma, the abnormal cells create an abnormal variety of antibody that doesn’t work correctly. It’s sometimes called a paraprotein or monoclonal antibody and multiplies in an uncontrolled way.

Myeloma causes a range of problems. The abnormal cells fill up the bone marrow and affect the normal production of other cells in the blood. This can lead to problems that include anaemia and not being able to fight infection. Too many plasma cells can also damage your bones. These can be painful, thinner, and break more easily.

Causes of myeloma

The cause of most myelomas is not known. Some things make it more likely, such as:

    • A family history of myeloma or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
    • A weakened immune system
    • Autoimmune conditions such as lupus
    • Being black (if you’re black you’re twice as likely to get it than white or Asian people)
    • Being over 75
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Exposure to radiation, for example, radiation therapy
    • Genetic conditions such as Gaucher disease
  • HIV

Symptoms of myeloma

Not everyone has symptoms in the early stages of myeloma. As it develops, you may have some warning signs. These include:

Bone pain in your lower back or ribs

Breathlessness

Changes in bowel habits

Extreme tiredness

Feeling very thirsty and sick

Fever and repeated infections

Kidney problems

Loss of appetite

Swelling in your ankles

Unusual bruising of the skin and bleeding

Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have myeloma, but it’s best to get checked by a doctor. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Tests and diagnosis

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms. If they suspect myeloma, you’ll be referred to a specialist (haematologist). Tests may include:

  • Blood and urine tests to check for certain types of antibodies and proteins
  • Bone marrow sample (biopsy)
  • CT scan
  • FMRI scan
  • X-rays of your bones

Treatments we offer

Treatment of myeloma may include surgery (plasmacytoma removal), chemotherapy, targeted therapies and radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Meet our doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

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Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

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Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

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Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

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Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

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Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

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Newmarket

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, CB8 7XN

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Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

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Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, OX4 6LB

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Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

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Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

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Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

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