Multiple myeloma is uncommon with a lifetime risk of 1 in 132 people or 0.76 percent, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS estimate there will be 30,770 new cases and 12,770 deaths in 2018.
It is unknown what exactly causes multiple myeloma, but it is more common in older adults and African-Americans than others. It also runs in families.
There is no cure for multiple myeloma, but the prognosis can be good if doctors catch it early.
What are the symptoms?
It is essential to recognize the symptoms of this type of cancer so doctors can start treatment early, if necessary.
Symptoms of multiple myeloma vary, and many people do not experience symptoms at all in the initial stages of the disease.
When symptoms are present they may include:
- extreme weakness and fatigue
- weakness and numbness in the legs
- weight loss
- frequent infections, fevers, and illness
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- shortness of breath
As symptoms of multiple myeloma increase and worsen, people may develop one or more related conditions.
These conditions are a consequence of the early symptoms of multiple myeloma and include:
Hypercalcemia is when a person has high levels of calcium in their blood.
People may experience extreme thirst, confusion, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal symptoms, including constipation and nausea as a result of hypercalcemia.
Anemia is when a person’s red blood cell count is low.
Myeloma cells push out red blood cells from the blood, causing anemia.
Reduced kidney function
Multiple myeloma may affect kidney function and cause kidney damage.
Advanced multiple myeloma may eventually cause fractures, pain, and bone thinning.
Myeloma cells weaken the immune system and inhibit the body’s ability to fight infections.