Multiple Myeloma: A Guide for Patients

Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. These are a type of white blood cells which originate in the bone marrow. The function of plasma cells is to produce antibodies. Antibodies occur naturally in our immune system and help protect us from infections. When plasma cells grow in an uncontrolled way it suppresses the growth of other bone marrow cells. This can lead to conditions such as anaemia, bleeding disorders, infections and bone lesions. In most cases of multiple myeloma there is also an abnormal production of non-functional antibody called monoclonal protein.

Beyond a definition of multiple myeloma, in this guide for patients you will find answers to questions such as:

  • Is multiple myeloma frequent?
  • What causes multiple myeloma?
  • How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?
  • What is important to know to get the optimal treatment?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • What happens after the treatment?

This guide for patients has been prepared in collaboration with Anticancer Fund as a service to patients, to help patients and their relatives better understand the nature of multiple myeloma and appreciate the best treatment choices available according to the subtype of multiple myeloma.

ESMO recommends that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of disease.

This Patient Guide on Multiple Myeloma was published in 2017.