Multiple MyelomaMultiple Myeloma Symptoms

Let's Talk About Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

It’s ironic (and unfortunate) that such a serious condition can be virtually symptom-free for a long time, making it tough to diagnose early. We asked the experts what to look for when signs of this blood cancer finally emerge.

    Our Pro PanelMultiple Myeloma Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts in multiple myeloma to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Cindy Varga, M.D. headshot.

    Cindy Varga, M.D.Medical Oncologist, Assistant Professor

    Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine
    Boston, MA
    Myo Htut, M.D. headshot.

    Myo Htut, M.D.Associate Clinical Professor of Hematology

    City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Duarte, CA
    Rebecca Silbermann, M.D. headshot.

    Rebecca Silbermann, M.D.Assistant Professor of Hematology/Medical Oncology

    Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine
    Portland, OR

    Frequently Asked QuestionsMultiple Myeloma Symptoms

    Is confusion a symptom of multiple myeloma?

    Yes, and here’s why: MM can lead to a build-up of calcium in the blood known as hypercalcemia. This can cause confusion, weakness, drowsiness, lack of appetite, stomach pain and constipation, dehydration and thirst. Extremely high calcium levels can lead to a coma.

    Is bone pain a multiple myeloma sign?

    It can be. People with MM usually describe bone pain as deep—you can’t “make” it happen by pressing on the area. You might feel it constantly, or only if you move in certain ways. In severe cases, the pain may be sharp enough to prevent you from standing up.

    What causes multiple myeloma?

    Doctors aren't sure, but there are differences in the genes that turn cell growth on and off in people with MM. Also, normal cells have 46 chromosomes, but MM cancer cells are often either missing a part of one chromosome or have a switched-up order of chromosomes.

    Is multiple myeloma curable?

    No, it’s not considered curable, yet. But it is treatable. Many new treatments have been discovered in the last decade, and some doctors are starting to call it a “chronic” condition that can be managed successfully for years.

    Sunny Sea Gold

    Sunny Sea Gold


    Sunny is a health journalist, book author, and essayist living in Portland, OR.