Frequently Asked Questions About Multiple Myeloma Cancer

Facts and statistics on multiple myeloma for patients and families.

Multiple Myeloma Facts and Resources

If you or a loved one is battling multiple myeloma, it can be a scary time. However, there is hope. Many organizations are working hard to find a cure and we help support their research by raising funds. Explore the multiple myeloma facts and resources below to support your journey or discussions with loved ones.

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a hematological (blood) cancer that develops in the plasma cells found in the soft, spongy tissue at the center of your bones, called bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell responsible for producing antibodies (immunoglobulins) which are critical for maintaining the body’s immune system. Through a complex, multi-step process, healthy plasma cells transform in malignant myeloma cells. (

How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?

Multiple myeloma is diagnosed with a bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. Other tests include blood monoclonal immunoglobulin and radiology tests to determine the extent of bone lesions. (Source:

What are the stages of multiple myeloma?

There are four stages of multiple myeloma.  While many doctors use different staging, these are various stages cited by many clinicians:
  1. Smoldering: Multiple myeloma with no symptoms
  2. Stage I: Early disease with little anemia, relatively small amount of M protein and no bone damage
  3. Stage II: More anemia and M protein as well as bone damage
  4. Stage III: Still more M protein, anemia, as well as signs of kidney damage
Although there are several staging systems, stages I, II, and III usually represent multiple myeloma with increasing severity of disease. (Source:

What are the common multiple myeloma symptoms?

Multiple myeloma symptoms include bone problems, low blood counts, high blood levels of calcium, nervous system symptoms, nerve damage, hyperviscosity, kidney problem, and infections. To learn more visit the American Cancer Society.

What is the multiple myeloma prognosis?

The multiple myeloma prognosis is only fair. Median survival is about three years, but some patients have a life expectancy of 10 years. (Source:

Connect with people who understand

It’s difficult to understand the journey until you or someone you care about has lived it. Myeloma Mentors is a program that pairs multiple myeloma patients with trained mentors, regardless of disease state. Mentors share personal experiences one-on-one with patients and caregivers to offer guidance and support along the way.

 Learn more about Myeloma Mentors.

Get financial and practical help

If you need assistance, whether that’s paying for multiple myeloma treatment or finding a caretaker, there are countless organizations who lend a helping hand.

Learn about treatment for multiple myeloma

Treatment for multiple myeloma can take several forms—including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants and sometimes surgery. 

Once diagnosed, patients may be referred to specialists who can organize a treatment plan—including oncologists, hematologists, radiologists, experts in stem cell transplantation and orthopedic and/or spine surgeons. Treatments typically focus on slowing cancer growth, lessoning symptoms and side effects and improving quality of life.

How many people in Northeastern Wisconsin have multiple myeloma?

Per the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 488 multiple myeloma cases were reported in northeastern Wisconsin from 2009-2013, approximately 122 annually.

Contact Mission Myeloma for more information

If you have questions about multiple myeloma, contact us. We can answer questions or connect you with resources that can help. Please note our team is comprised of volunteers so our response time during business days may be limited. Thank you for your patience.