Myeloma

Last Updated: July 30, 2018

Definition - What does Myeloma mean?

Myeloma is a form of cancer that affects the body's plasma cells. Plasma cells are a central component of the body's immune system. A mature form of white blood cell, plasma cells produce antibodies needed help the body fight off infections.

During myeloma, plasma cells develop and multiply abnormally. The cells then develop into tumors, often lodged within the bone marrow. These clusters of abnormal plasma cells can also adhere to the surface of the bones throughout the body. When tumors are found in more than one site, the condition is referred to as multiple myeloma.

Myeloma weakens the body's bones, impairs the production of various types of cells in the bone marrow, and damages the body's immune system.

Myleoma is sometimes called plasmacytoma. This term refers to a plasma-related toma, or tumor. Because plasmacytomas are a common symptom of myeloma, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

WorkplaceTesting explains Myeloma

Bone marrow, the soft tissue within the body's bones, serves as a biological factory for the body. Several different types of cells are produced by the bone marrow, including the various blood cells essential to the body's ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients and fight infection. The presence of myeloma's tumors within the bone marrow prevents the production of adequate red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Additionally, the mutated plasma cells characteristic of myeloma produce abnormal immunoglobins (antibodies). The antibodies can damage the kidneys, which may result in kidney failure.

Myeloma also causes the body to leach calcium from the bones. The abnormal myeloma cells trigger the body to break down the calcium in bones faster than it can be replaced. This causes the bones to become fragile and break easily. Myeloma sufferers may also experience bone pain.

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