How Multiple Myeloma Affects the Body


Jennifer Larson

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More than 24,000 people are diagnosed each year in the United States with the bone marrow cancer known as multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that are found in the spongy bone marrow tissue at the heart of your bones. Essentially, the body begins to make abnormal plasma cells --lots of them--and they begin to take over. These malignant plasma cells clump together to create tumors. Among others, multiple myeloma affects the bones and reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection. But it can affect other bodily functions, too.

Your Immune System

Plasma cells, which are found mainly in the bone marrow, are part of the immune system. Normally, they produce antibodies to fight off infection. But when they become cancerous, they no longer function normally to fight off infections. They begin to proliferate, flood the circulation with excess antibodies, and eventually the overwhelming population of malignant plasma cells crowd out and kill off the normal blood cells. This makes it harder for your body to fight off foreign invaders that can make you sick.

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