Myeloma overview

Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. In myeloma, the cells overgrow, forming a mass or tumour that is located in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found in the centre of the bone, where red cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made.

Age is the most significant risk factor for developing myeloma. People under age 45 rarely develop the disease. Those aged 67 years or older are at greatest risk of developing myeloma. Men are more likely than women to develop myeloma, and myeloma is about twice as common among African Americans as among Caucasians.

Causes or risk factors

As with Leukaemia and Lymphoma we don't know the causes of Myeloma. There are some risk factors:

  • Age, with 95% of cases diagnosed in people aged over 50. It’s very rare for people under 40 to get myeloma. Myeloma doesn’t affect children.
  • Sex, men are more likely to develop myeloma than women
  • Family history of Myeloma, a close relative of someone with myeloma is two or three times more likely to develop myeloma than other people.
  • Ethnicity, people of Afro-caribbean ethnicity are more likely to get myeloma
  • If you have Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), in most people it is harmless but there is a small risk of developing myeloma


  • Feeling sick
  • Rxtreme tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • Pain in your bones


Not everyone needs treatment, your doctors may put you on 'watch and wait' where they will monitor your condition regularly.

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