Bone Marrow Cancer (Multiple Myeloma)

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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

Bone Marrow Cancer 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 Multiple Myeloma

Bone marrow cancer 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
Hematology Team

Why Choose Norton Cancer Institute

More patients in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Cancer Institute than any other provider in the area. We provide compassionate care for the whole person, not just the cancer.

Our Norton Cancer Institute oncologists are also researchers and principal investigators, offering patients sophisticated experience in the latest treatments and access to more than 200 clinical trials.

  • Access to more than 100 specialists, including board-certified and fellowship-trained oncologists
  • Multidisciplinary setting, meaning you get the benefit of opinions from multiple specialists across Norton Healthcare and often can schedule appointments for the same day in the same location
  • Immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapy, genetic therapies tailored to combat the unique genetic makeup of your cancer and the latest in surgical treatments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • State-of-the-art Norton Cancer Institute Genomics Lab offering highly specialized testing that makes it possible to tailor advanced treatments based on a tumor’s specific genetic composition
  • Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy for minimally invasive lung biopsies that can reach more parts of the lung without major surgery
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance accepted
  • At Norton Specialty Pharmacy, patients receive regular consultations on their medications and treatment plan, making sure they get their prescriptions quickly and accurately. Our specialty pharmacists collaborate closely with your oncology team.
  • Use your free Norton MyChart account to communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions, get on the wait list for an earlier appointment and more anytime from a mobile device or computer

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