Signs and symptoms of myeloma
Often the first indication that something is wrong
In the early stages of myeloma, some people may be Where a person does not experience any symptoms of their condition., meaning that they aren’t experiencing any symptoms;
in many of these cases, myeloma may be detected as a result of routine blood work.
However, in most cases, individuals first go to their doctor, or even the emergency room, with vague and persistent complaints of back or bone pain, extreme fatigue, or recurrent infections that they may mistakenly believe are signs of “getting older.”
When symptoms are present, most are the result of excessively high numbers of Special white blood cells that produce antibodies. The malignant cell in myeloma. Normal plasma cells produce antibodies to fight infection. In myeloma, malignant plasma cells produce large amounts of abnormal antibodies that lack the capability to fight infection. The abnormal antibodies are the monoclonal protein, or M protein. Plasma cells also produce other chemicals that can cause organ and tissue damage (i.e. anemia, kidney damage and nerve damage). in the Spongy tissue that is found inside your bones. It is soft, fatty and full of blood vessels. Your bone marrow is where most of the blood cells in your body are made. and the presence of M-protein (paraprotein) in the blood or urine.
Common myeloma signs and symptoms
Bone pain is the main reason 70% of people with myeloma first seek medical attention. Pain is most frequently reported in the middle or lower back, in the ribs, or in the hips.
As myeloma cells invade the bone, they damage and weaken the bone and increase the risk of fractures.
Extreme and persistent fatigue, which can be caused by:
- the myeloma itself
- one or more myeloma-related complications (e.g. Decreased blood hemoglobin level. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen around the body.)
- Problems that occur due to drugs used for disease treatment. Common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, and mouth sores. from myeloma treatments
Feeling extremely tired and weak
- Excessively large numbers of abnormal The liquid part of the blood in which red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are suspended. cells can decrease the production of red Minute structures produced in the bone marrow; they include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. in the bone marrow and lead to anemia.
Overcrowding in the bone marrow interferes with the production of healthy infection-fighting cells, reducing the ability of the The complex group of organs and cells that produces antibodies to defend the body against foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, and cancers. to fight off infections and illnesses.
The breakdown of bone caused by myeloma causes excess Mineral found mainly in the hard part of bone. to accumulate in the blood (a condition known as “A higher-than-normal level of calcium in the blood. This condition can cause a number of symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, thirst, fatigue, muscle weakness, restlessness, and confusion. Common in myeloma patients and usually resulting from bone destruction with release of calcium into the blood stream. Often associated with reduced kidney function since calcium can be toxic to the kidneys. For this reason, hypercalcemia is usually treated on an emergency basis using IV fluids combined with drugs to reduce bone destruction along with direct treatment for the myeloma.”), which can lead to a number of different symptoms such as:
- loss of appetite
- muscle weakness
- difficulty in thinking
- increased thirst
- increased urine production
- nausea and vomiting
Kidney damage can occur as a result of:
- too much protein in the blood (which is filtered through the kidneys)
- high levels of calcium in the blood (due to the breakdown of bone)
- excessive light chain proteins from immunoglobulin in the urine
Pain or discomfort from the kidneys is often felt in the back, sides, or belly.
Pain and fatigue can make day-to-day life with myeloma more difficult. Learn how to manage and cope with myeloma-related pain and fatigue in our Managing Pain and Fatigue InfoGuide.
Not all people with myeloma will have all, some, or even any of the signs and symptoms above.
Signs and symptoms of myeloma may not even be due to myeloma at all but rather to other health problems that cause the same symptoms. That’s why it’s important for anyone experiencing these or any other symptoms to consult with a medical professional. The sooner a problem can be diagnosed and treated, the better.
For more information, download the Multiple Myeloma Patient Handbook
Designed to provide educational support to those living with myeloma, their caregivers, families, and friends, this handbook gives accurate, reliable, and clear information on myeloma. Among topics are in-depth discussions on what myeloma is, its causes and effects, treatment options in Canada, and how to manage your myeloma journey.