Multiple Myeloma

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects certain white blood cells called plasma cells. Plasma cells are the part of your immune system that helps your body get rid of harmful substances.

Because your body has many types of plasma cells, it can respond to many types of harmful substances. But when multiple myeloma occurs, your body overproduces abnormal plasma or multiple myeloma cells.

Multiple myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow and the outer layer of the bone. Since these cells begin in the blood plasma, Myeloma is technically not bone cancer, but cancer that affects bones.

Learn more about multiple myeloma symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Multiple Myeloma Care

State-of-the-Art Cancer Treatment

RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meets the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, blood and marrow or stem cell transplants, targeted therapies, alpha interferon and access to clinical trials.

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New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We are New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized hematologists/oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and certified oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer specialty care with expertise in blood cancers.

Oncology Nurse Navigators Guide You Through Your ALL Journey

Nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures, and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best blood cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

Multiple myeloma symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Recurring infections
  • Bone pain
  • Unexplained bone fractures

Patients are encouraged to seek medical care at the first sign of multiple myeloma symptoms, and especially if they persist. An early diagnosis can increase the chances of improved outcomes.

Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis

If you have multiple myeloma symptoms, your doctor will conduct a thorough medical history and physical exam, gathering important information regarding how long you have had symptoms, what types of symptoms you have had, and if you have been exposed to any risk factors. The doctor may order any of the following tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Blood tests. Examine the blood for signs of cancer.
  • Imaging tests. X-rays, MRI, CT scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan. These are used to see if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Bone marrow aspirations and/or biopsies. A sample of bone marrow is removed from the hip and sent to the laboratory where it is examined for multiple myeloma cells.
  • Skeletal surveys. A series of X-rays of the whole body is used to diagnose bone abnormalities.

Multiple Myeloma Treatment

There is a wide range of multiple myeloma treatment options available today, including:

  • Medications. There are medications that may be used to control pain or prevent fractures.
  • Radiation therapy. May be used to control pain, prevent fractures, and promote bone lesion healing.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemicals are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Biological or targeted therapies. These are special therapies that customize treatment delivery to the particular kind of cancer.
  • Alpha interferon. This is a substance that stimulates your body's immune system to fight disease. Alpha Interferon interferes with the division of cancer cells and slows tumor growth. It also seems to prolong remission when given to patients after chemotherapy treatment.
  • Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. This treatment is used extensively in patients with multiple myeloma. In fact, autologous transplant is often the first line of treatment for multiple myeloma for eligible patients. It may improve outcomes and is relatively well tolerated with manageable short-term side effects.

In addition to these types of treatments, researchers are also continually studying other potential treatments through clinical trials to help fight multiple myeloma.

View Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials

Facts About Multiple Myeloma

  • Multiple myeloma blood cancer represents about one percent of all cancers in the United States; about 22,000 Americans are diagnosed with it each year.
  • The overall 5-year multiple myeloma survival rate is 54 percent.
  • The 5-year multiple myeloma survival rate for the 5 percent of people who are diagnosed at an early stage is 75 percent.

Questions? Contact Us

Your team at RWJBarnabas Health is here to address any questions or concerns that you might have. We will help you understand how you will feel and function during and after treatment, and if you will have to change any of your normal activities.

Together, you and your RWJBarnabas Health care team will craft a treatment plan that is right for you.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best blood cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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