Sunday, September 29, 2013

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that is caused by malignant plasma cells that proliferate in the bone marrow and produce abnormally high amounts of a special protein. The special proteins are typically monoclonal paraprotein (M protein) and other compounds such as immunoglobulins. Plasma cells are white blood cells that make antibodies and are part of the body's immune system. Multiple myeloma plasma cell proliferation can result in etched away bone (lytic bone lesions), soft tissue masses, impaired immune system, and pain from collapsing bone and other systemic problems listed below.

What triggers plasma cells to become malignant in multiple myeloma is not known. The cancerous myeloma plasma cells proliferate and crowd out normal plasma cells and can etch away areas of bones. The proteins produced in large amounts can cause many of the symptoms of the disease by making the blood more thickened (viscous) and depositing the proteins in organs that can interfere with the functions of the kidneys, nerves, and immune system.

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