Multiple myeloma begins in a type of white blood cells, called plasma cells, that develop in your bone marrow. Metastatic multiple myeloma is when the cancer spreads to multiple parts of your body.
Myeloma can cause tumors that develop inside your bones. These tumors can weaken your bones and create abnormal cells that crowd out healthy blood cells. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, most people with myeloma have multiple tumors by the time they’re diagnosed.
Myeloma cells can also spread outside your bone marrow and cause tumors in other parts of your body such as your respiratory tract or skin.
Myeloma currently isn’t curable, but it’s controllable with medications. Some people can live many years with their myeloma under control.
This article takes a closer look at metastatic myeloma, including common sites of metastasis and how it’s treated.
Myeloma most commonly develops inside of your:
- shoulder blades
- upper arms or legs
Like with other cancers, myeloma cells have the potential to travel to other parts of your body. If myeloma spreads to other bones or areas, it’s sometimes referred to as metastatic multiple myeloma. In about
When myeloma forms a tumor outside of your bone marrow, it’s called extramedullary disease. About half of people with extramedullary disease develop it within
Most people have multiple tumors when they’re diagnosed. Myeloma is most likely to spread to other bones. The
- skin or muscle
- lymph nodes
Multiple myeloma spreads to the central nervous system in well under
How common is multiple myeloma and who gets it?
- increasing age
- male sex
- family history
- having other plasma cell diseases such as solitary plasmacytoma or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance
Myeloma is treated primarily with a combination of medications to reduce symptoms of the disease. These medications usually include:
- one of the following medications:
- lenalidomide (Revlimid)
- bortezomib (Velcade)
- daratumumab (Darzalex)
Younger adults and people with better overall health are more likely to receive intensive treatment. Intensive treatment involves taking a high dose of chemotherapy and replacing damaged cells with a stem cell transplant.
CAR T-cell treatment is a type of immunotherapy available for some people who weren’t helped by other treatments. This treatment helps your immune system destroy cancerous cells but can cause serious side effects, such as a high fever or trouble breathing.
Is metastatic multiple myeloma curable?
Multiple myeloma isn’t considered curable. Treatment aims to reduce symptoms of the disease and to destroy cancer cells. Some people can live for many years with multiple myeloma.
The 5-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma in the United States was
For people with metastatic myeloma, the 5-year relative survival rate is about
Factors linked to poorer survival rates include:
Multiple myeloma starts in your bone marrow but can spread to many other body parts.
Metastatic myeloma is when your cancer has spread to multiple body parts such as other bones, skin, or muscles. Cancer that has spread outside of your bone marrow is associated with having a poorer outlook.
Doctors usually treat multiple myeloma with a combination of medications to decrease disease activity and reduce symptoms. Usually, these medications include chemotherapy, a steroid, and one of several targeted therapy drugs.