Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Female chemotherapy patient with her doctor talking about myeloma.

Female chemotherapy patient with her doctor talking about myeloma.
beginning of content

Multiple myeloma

Myeloma, or multiple myeloma, is a type of cancer of cells called plasma cells. When plasma cells grow abnormally and build up in the bone marrow, they are known as myeloma cells. Currently there is no cure, but treatment is available. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that fight infection. They are not the same as plasma, which is fluid that carries the components of blood.

What causes myeloma?

The cause of myeloma is not known. Some people who develop myeloma have been exposed to high doses of radiation, and some have had ongoing exposure to some industrial or environmental chemicals. Others develop myeloma without these risk factors.

Myeloma is more common later in life. This may be the ageing process itself, or the result of a lifelong accumulation of toxic substances. Most people diagnosed with myeloma are over the age of 60.

Myeloma symptoms

Myeloma affects different places in the body – for example, the spine, skull, pelvis, shoulders and hips. Common symptoms may include:

  • bone pain or a broken bone not caused by injury
  • anaemia and fatigue
  • kidney damage
  • frequent or prolonged infections.

Myeloma diagnosis

Symptoms of myeloma may be similar to many other conditions, so it can be difficult to diagnose, and requires several tests.

These may include:

Myeloma treatment

Although there is no treatment which can cure myeloma, there are a range of treatments like chemotherapy that can slow the disease down and help ease symptoms. The way different people respond to treatment can vary greatly.

Talk to your doctor about the options. It’s important to read reliable sources of information, and that you discuss your options with family, friends and perhaps other patients. It might help to get advice from organisations such as Myeloma Australia and the Leukemia Foundation of Australia.

If you make the decision not to have treatment for the myeloma, you can still get plenty of treatment for the symptoms. It might help to see a palliative care specialist for help in managing pain and other symptoms.

Last reviewed: August 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 82 results

Multiple Myeloma | myVMC

Multiple myeloma arises in the plasma cells of bone marrow. It is more common in farmers and people who work with wood, leather and petroleum.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Multiple myeloma - myDr.com.au

Find out all about multiple myeloma, a type of cancer affecting a mature form of white blood cell found in the bone marrow.

Read more on myDr website

Multiple Myeloma - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow, starting in the plasma cells. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Multiple myeloma - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Myeloma Nephropathy | myVMC

Myeloma nephropathy is a kidney disorder related to multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. It causes excessive blood calcium or protein.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma - NT.GOV.AU

Prevention, symptoms and treatment for leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Read more on NT Health website

Beta-2 Microglobulin - Lab Tests Online AU

Why, how and when beta 2 microglobulin testing is done

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Empliciti Powder for infusion - myDr.com.au

Empliciti Powder for infusion - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Protein and immunofixation electrophoresis - Lab Tests Online AU

Brief explanations of protein electrophoresis and immunofixation electrophoresis

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Thalomid Capsules - myDr.com.au

Thalomid Capsules - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback