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What is myeloma?

What is myeloma?

Myeloma, or multiple myeloma, is a blood cancer. As its symptoms include debilitating pain caused by bone damage, it is sometimes referred to as bone marrow cancer.

Myeloma affects the plasma cells in the blood, which are an important part of the immune system that fights infection. When someone has myeloma, control of blood cell production breaks down. People with myeloma make lots of abnormal plasma, or myeloma, cells, which are not able to fight infection.

The myeloma cells cluster in the bone marrow, causing serious damage to the bone and also prevent other blood cells from being made. People with myeloma often develop kidney problems. This is caused by large amounts of an abnormal antibody, called paraprotein, which is released into the blood by the myeloma cells.

Joan Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in February 2006. Joan underwent a stem cell transplant in 2007 and is now in remission: "If it wasn't for the research that is undertaken looking at how best to treat blood cancers I wouldn't be here today."