This article first appeared on the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation website and is reprinted here with their permission.
The cause of multiple myeloma has not yet been identified. Although scientists have made advancements in understanding how multiple myeloma develops, it is unclear as to what exactly causes the disease.
Multiple Myeloma Risk factors
Research suggests possible associations with a decline in the immune system, certain occupations, exposure to certain chemicals, and exposure to radiation. However, there are no strong connections, and, in most cases, multiple myeloma develops in individuals who have no known risk factors. Multiple myeloma may also be the result of several risk factors acting together.
While multiple myeloma is not considered to be a hereditary disease, research has found that genetic factors may influence the development of multiple myeloma.
How Multiple Myeloma Develops
Normal plasma cells develop into malignant plasma cells through a multistep process. When plasma cells become malignant, they grow out of control, dividing rapidly. Soon, there are too many malignant cells, and they begin to crowd out normal cells in the bone marrow. Malignant plasma cells may invade the hard outer part of the bone and then spread into the cavities of the large bones in the body and form a tumor. When only one tumor is formed, it is called a solitary plasmacytoma. When multiple small tumors are formed, the disease is multiple myeloma.
In 2006, the MMRF launched the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative, which has significantly improved our understanding of how multiple myeloma develops.
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