Multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, and other plasma cell disorders form in blood cells in the body called plasma cells. Healthy plasma cells make antibodies to help fight off infections and germs. Instead of producing healthy antibodies, people with plasma cell disorders produce abnormal antibodies that may cause complications. Learn more about these disorders, signs and symptoms, and treatment options below.
Multiple Myeloma, Amyloidosis, and Other Plasma Cell Disorders
Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells in the body. Cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out normal antibodies that help your body fight infections. These cancerous plasma cells make an abnormal antibody, called an M protein, which builds up and takes over space in the bone marrow that the red cells, white cells, and platelets need.
Amyloidosis is also a plasma cell disorder consisting of abnormal cells in the bone marrow. Normal antibodies in the body are made up of two types of protein chains, light and heavy. In people with amyloidosis, abnormal plasma cells make too many light chains that then form abnormal proteins, called amyloids.
A number of other plasma cell disorders exist that are also classified by abnormal plasma cells but are not considered multiple myeloma or amyloidosis. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) are two examples that contain similar characteristics to multiple myeloma and are considered precursor conditions.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of plasma cell disorders vary from person to person and someone in an early stage of the diseases may have no symptoms, while someone in a later stage may experience a wide range.
It is still generally unknown what exactly causes plasma cell disorders, but certain risk factors have been identified that may increase a person’s risk of developing multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, or other plasma cell disorders. These risk factors are not automatic indicators that someone may develop these diseases, but they are important to be aware of for a general increased risk. Learn more about these risk factors.
A number of tests and diagnostic procedures may be performed in order to diagnose multiple myeloma or other plasma cell disorders depending on a patient’s symptoms or history. These disorders may also be diagnosed during a routine blood test and then additional tests may be performed to determine the stage of the disease. Learn more about potential tests or lab work that may be required to diagnose multiple myeloma or similar disorders.
Various treatment options exist that have the ability to slow the progression of multiple myeloma, manage symptoms, and control complications associated with plasma cell disorders. Treatment plans vary from person to person and the best option for some may not be the best option for others. Some plasma cell disorders may not require immediate treatment. Learn more about the types of treatment options available.
Side effects from plasma cell disorders and corresponding treatment are personal to each individual and vary from case to case. There are many ways to manage side effects and discussing them with a physician can lead to the best possible care. Learn more about common side effects and how to best mitigate them.