Risk Factors/Signs and Symptoms

Research is increasing regarding what we know about Multiple Myeloma. Scientists are learning more about its causes.

Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma


Age - Most patients with myeloma are diagnosed after age 65 and the disease is rare in people younger than 35.

Family History - Studies have found that a person's risk of multiple myeloma may be higher if a close relative had the disease.

Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) - MGUS is a benign condition in which abnormal plasma cells make M proteins. Usually, there are no symptoms, and the abnormal level of M protein is found with a blood test.

Race/Sex - The risk of multiple myeloma is highest among African Americans and lowest among Asian Americans. Men are more commonly diagnosed with this type of cancer than women.

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma


The following signs and symptoms present themselves and may indicate Multiple Myeloma is developing:

Blood Abnormalities - Low red and/or white blood cell counts and low platelet counts are symptoms of multiple myeloma. A patient with a low red blood cell count (anemia) will exhibit symptoms such as weakness, shortness of breath and dizziness. Those with a low white blood cell count experience a lowered resistance to infections. While those patients with a low platelet count will suffer heavy bleeding from minor scrapes, cuts and bruises.

Bone Pain - Myeloma cells make a substance that causes the bone to dissolve, which can cause small areas of bone weakness and is painful. While any bone can be affected, pain in the backbone, hip bones, and skull is most common.

High Blood Calcium - When bone dissolves, it releases calcium into the blood, which can cause kidneys to fail. If this happens a patient, will feel very thirsty, urinate frequently, experience a loss of appetite, constipation, and feel drowsy or confused.

Infections - Myeloma patients are about 15 times more likely to get infections and are prone to pneumonia.

Kidney Function Issues - Myeloma protein or calcium in the blood can damage the kidneys, which makes it harder for the body to rid itself of excess salt, fluid, and body waste products.

Nervous System Symptoms - Bones in the spine may get weak and even collapse. They can press on certain nerves, causing severe pain, numbness, and/or muscle weakness. Abnormal proteins made by myeloma cells can damage nerves, causing weakness and numbness.

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