What is Myeloma?
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. These plasma cells protect the body against viruses and infections. In myeloma a single defective plasma cell multiplies rapidly, disrupting the immune system and displacing healthy bone marrow. Myeloma generally occurs in several places at once which is why it is sometimes known as multiple myeloma. There is no known cause of myeloma but there are thought to be multiple predisposing factors including exposure to petroleum based products and pesticides. The most common symptoms include severe pain, bone fractures and fatigue and it can have a profound effect on the quality of life of those with the condition. Sufferers are more susceptible to infection.
Is Myeloma a common cancer?
Myeloma is the second most common cancer of the blood. In Ireland on average approximately 187 new patients are diagnosed with myeloma each year (Irish Cancer Society, 2006). Myeloma is more common in men than women and incidence increases with age. 15% are less than 60 years, a further 15% are aged 60-65 years, 2% are under 40 years and childhood myeloma is extremely rare.