Bone Marrow Cancer (Multiple Myeloma) | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky

Multiple Myeloma (Bone Marrow Cancer)

Bone marrow cancer, also known as multiple myeloma, is formed throughout the body by malignant plasma cells in bone marrow. It is a relatively uncommon cancer affecting roughly 26,000 men and women in the U.S. each year. The specialist physicians at Norton Cancer Institute use treatments that can manage the symptoms and extend life expectancy substantially. There currently is not a cure for multiple myeloma.

Norton Cancer Institute provides a full range of myeloma treatment options. That includes access to innovative clinical trials featuring promising new therapies, as well as extensive cancer support services and resources to empower you and your loved ones, wherever you are in the journey.

Learn more about bone marrow cancer below, including signs, symptoms and risk factors.

What is Bone Marrow Cancer?

Plasma cells help the body’s immune system fight disease by producing substances called antibodies. Too many plasma cells can form a tumor in the bone marrow called a myeloma; many tumors are called multiple myeloma.

The excess growth of plasma cells interferes with the body’s ability to make red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This causes anemia and makes you more prone to infections and abnormal bleeding.

As the cancer cells grow in the bone marrow, they cause pain and destruction of the bones. If the bones in the spine are affected, it can put pressure on the nerves, resulting in numbness or paralysis.

Risk Factors for Bone Marrow Cancer

Multiple myeloma mainly affects older adults, and is more common among African Americans. To date, there is no way to prevent multiple myeloma, but there are certain risk factors associated with the disease, including:

  • A family history of bone marrow cancer
  • Exposure to chemicals such as herbicides, rubber, textiles, petroleum products or heavy metals
  • Exposure to radiation, including radiation therapy
  • History of chronic infections

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

Many people show no signs of bone marrow cancer. When multiple myeloma symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone pain or fractures
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Infections (viral or bacterial)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness in the legs
  • Problems with urination
  • Weakness and fatigue

How to Diagnose Bone Marrow Cancer

Multiple myeloma is often difficult to detect. If your physician suspects the disease, he or she may perform diagnostic tests, including:

  • X-rays
  • Blood and urine tests
  • CT and/or bone scans
  • Bone marrow aspiration
  • Biopsy

About Norton Cancer Institute

Norton Cancer Institute is the leading oncology practice in Louisville and Southern Indiana. We offer multidisciplinary oncology care from specialists at the leading edge of cancer treatment.

With nine outpatient locations, three radiation centers, multiple infusion centers across the Louisville area and same-day appointments for new patients, you can start your cancer recovery quickly.

There are many reasons why more people choose Norton Cancer Institute for their care.

  • Access to more than 100 specialists, including board-certified and fellowship-trained oncologists
  • Specialists from across Norton Healthcare who work together to review your case to ensure the best care for you and those who care for you
  • Treatments including surgical, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and genetic therapies tailored to combat the unique genetic makeup of your cancer
  • Prompt care clinics designed especially for providing symptom relief and other care to Norton Cancer Institute patients
  • MyNortonChart, an online tool that lets you communicate with your provider, manage appointments, and more anytime from a computer or mobile device
  • A radiation therapy program that sets the standard for precision and excellence in the region
  • More than 180 cancer-related clinical trials give you access to the newest therapies
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