Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
In some cases, multiple myeloma will not cause symptoms. When signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma do occur, they may include bone pain, bones that break easily, fever for no known reason, and frequent infections. In addition, multiple myeloma may cause there to be an excess of calcium in the blood, which may lead to symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, and fatigue. In rare cases, multiple myeloma symptoms can lead to organ failure.
In multiple myeloma, abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) build up in the bone marrow, forming tumors in many bones of the body. These tumors may prevent the bone marrow from making enough healthy blood cells. Normally, the bone marrow produces stem cells (immature cells) that develop into three types of mature blood cells, which include:
- Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body
- White blood cells that fight infection and disease
- Platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.
As the number of myeloma cells increases, fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made. The myeloma cells also damage and weaken the hard parts of the bones. It is helpful to understand this progression in order to understand the symptoms, staging, and treatment of multiple myeloma.
Sometimes multiple myeloma does not cause any symptoms. However, when present, common symptoms can include:
- Bone pain, often in the back or ribs
- Bones that break easily
- Fever for no known reason (or frequent infections)
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Trouble breathing
- Weakness of the arms or legs
- Feeling very tired.