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Clinical Specialties - Cancer

Multiple Myeloma

San MDTMyeloma is a type of blood cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow. As bone marrow is found in multiple areas of the body, the disease is often called multiple myeloma.

Haematology Cancer MDTThe myeloma experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. They have experience with early-stage as well as complex cancer; have access to advanced diagnostic tools and a wide range of treatments, including clinical trials. At the same time, our supportive clinicians help you manage side effects to support your quality of life. Explore this section to learn more about multiple myeloma and other blood cancers, its side effects and your treatment options.

About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in the blood's plasma cells. Made in the bone marrow (the soft, inner part of some bones), plasma cells are a type of white blood cell (B lymphocyte) that produces antibodies (e.g., monoclonal proteins or M-proteins) which fight infection.

A cancer of the bone marrow, multiple myeloma causes an excess of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells), which form tumours in multiple locations throughout the bone marrow. These tumours begin to overcrowd the bone marrow and prevent normal reproduction of healthy blood cells.

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, Myeloma is not a common disease. About 1500 people in Australia are diagnosed with the disease each year. It accounts for 15% of blood cancers and 1% of all cancers generally.

What are the symptoms of multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma symptoms often don’t appear until the disease reaches an advanced stage.

Symptoms vary for each individual, some common ones include:

  • Bone pain (often in the back or ribs)
  • Unexplained bone fractures (usually in the spine)
  • Fatigue, feeling of weakness
  • Recurrent infections, fevers
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst, urination

In addition to experiencing the symptoms listed above, related conditions associated with multiple myeloma may develop as it progresses and include:

  • Low blood counts
  • Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood)
  • Kidney problems
  • Spinal cord compression
How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?

Multiple myeloma can be difficult to diagnose. Your integrated team of multiple myeloma experts will use state-of-the-art tools to accurately diagnose the disease. This helps us formulate an individualised treatment plan best suited to your needs. Throughout your treatment, we'll use imaging and laboratory tests to track the size of the tumours, monitor your response to treatment, and modify your plan when needed.

Some of the means of diagnosis include blood, urine, bone marrow and imaging tests. The results of these tests will be thoroughly reviewed by oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. The San’s Haematology (Blood) MDT will review the diagnosis and tailor a treatment plan specifically for you and your cancer.

What are my treatment options for multiple myeloma?

We target multiple myeloma with some of the most advanced treatments and technology available. Treatment is highly individual and depends on the type and stage of myeloma you have, as well as your general health.

You will probably have a range of different treatments over time which may include any or several of the following:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Interventional radiology
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Stem cell transplantation
Resources and useful multiple myeloma links
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Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical Specialties and Services