What is it?

Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a type of blood cancer affecting plasma cells.

Plasma cells are found in the bone marrow, which is the soft, spongy material in the centre of most bones. Myeloma cells stop the bone marrow from making normal red cells, white cells and platelets. This can cause issues like anaemia, abnormal bleeding and bruising, low white blood cells, and low platelets. Myeloma can also affect the bones, resulting in too much calcium in the blood, brittle bones and fractures.

Myeloma may only need treatment if symptoms arise or if myeloma cells increase. People with myeloma should see a specialist regularly for ongoing monitoring and treatment when needed. Like all cancers, myeloma is classified in stages. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, including how far it has spread.

Myeloma is uncommon. Around 2000 Australians are diagnosed every year. Around 80% of people diagnosed are aged over 60. While there is no cure for myeloma, treatment helps to control symptoms. As new treatments emerge, people are living longer than ever with myeloma.