Multiple myeloma is a cancer of your plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help you fight infections.

In multiple myeloma, a group of plasma cells (myeloma cells) becomes cancerous and multiplies, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Since these cells normally make proteins (antibodies), the level of abnormal proteins in your blood also may go up. Health problems caused by multiple myeloma can affect your bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.

If you have multiple myeloma but don't have symptoms, your doctor may just monitor your condition. If you're experiencing symptoms, a number of treatments are available to help control multiple myeloma.

Aug. 16, 2011