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Multiple Myeloma is a type of blood cancer affecting the bone marrow predominantly and is characterised by excessive multiplication of a type of white blood cells called plasma cells.
It is the second most common type of blood cancer with approximately 100 to 120 new patients diagnosed with this disease in Singapore a year.
The consequence of unrestrained multiplication of plasma cells is two-fold. The cancer cells may overwhelm the normal bone marrow functions and prevent it from making enough healthy blood cells. As the number of myeloma cells increases, fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made.
Secondly, the myeloma cells may also damage and weaken the bone, make it friable such that it may fracture with even trivial injury or release calcium from the bones into the blood causing dangerously high blood levels of this element. This can cause excessive thirst, constipation, confusion or even loss of consciousness.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma include:
Regular screening for multiple myeloma is generally not recommended.
There is no specific cause for myeloma, but some factors that can increase the risk of myeloma include: