Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell found in many tissues of the body, but primarily in the bone marrow. In myeloma, a B lymphocyte, the cell that forms plasma cells, becomes malignant. It grows continuously and forms masses of plasma cells, especially in the marrow, destroying normal blood cell production.
Malignant plasma cells produce an abnormal protein called monoclonal immunoglobulin. Immunoglobulins (or antibodies) are an important part of the body's natural defense against infection because they recognize microbes that invade the body and permit then to be removed and destroyed. The onset of myeloma interferes with normal production of antibodies and makes myeloma patients susceptible to infections.
Often the first symptom of myeloma is bone pain caused by the effects of malignant plasma (myeloma) cells in the marrow. Patients may have anemia, tire more easily and feel weak. Fractures may occur as a result of the weakened bones. Recurrent infections may be an early sign of disease.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, headquartered in White Plains, NY, with 68 chapters in the United States and Canada, is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. The Society's mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since its founding in 1949, the Society has invested more than $550 million in research specifically targeting leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Last year alone, the Society made 5.1 million contacts with patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
|SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society|
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