Image 1: Cartoon Myeloma Cells
Image 2: Development of Multiple Myeloma Cells
Multiple Myeloma is a type of cancer that forms in a group of white blood cells called plasma cells. The plasma cells are a cell found in the bone marrow that helps our bodies fight infection by producing antibodies that identify and attack germs.
When a person has Multiple Myeloma the mutated Myeloma cells begin to accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out the healthy red blood cells, platelets and other white blood cells. The crowding caused by the Myeloma cells can cause problems such as anemia, fatigue, bleeding easily and getting infections easily. The Myeloma cells then produce abnormal proteins that cause complications such as bone damage, high levels of calcium in the blood and kidney problems.
Signs and Symptoms
The largest or most commonly known symptom of Multiple Myeloma is the bone damage it causes. The myeloma cells cause the bones in the body to breakdown faster than they are able to rebuild themselves. This causes the bones to be weaker and thinner which leads to lesions and/or broken bones. Multiple Myeloma affects multiple bones (hence the name) in different areas of the body but the most common bones affect are:
Shoulder blade (scapula)
Upper arm bone (humerus)
Upper leg bone (femur)
The most common signs and symptoms of Multiple Myeloma can be referred to with the adjective CRAB. This stands for Hypercalcemia, renal (kidney) problems, anemia and bone disease. These symptoms paired with blood testing in which the abnormal myeloma protein (M -protein) and a shortage of other cells can be detected is a large part in how multiple myeloma can be diagnosed. Other forms of diagnosis for this disease include X-rays, MRI scans, biopsies, PET scans and a urinalysis (testing of urine).
Skull Image (Case courtesy of Dr Jennie Roberts, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 17909)
Pelvis Image (Case courtesy of Dr Saikat Sarkar, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 54702)
CRAB Image (from
Spine Image (Case courtesy of A.Prof Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 7682)
Full Body Image: Case courtesy of A.Prof Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 16464
*This information is for educational and awareness purposes only and should not be constructed or used as medical advice.