The interior of certain bones contains bone marrow. This soft, spongy tissue produces plasma, a type of white blood cell. Myeloma is a marrow-based cancer that affects plasma cells. It may result in anemia or increased bleeding or bruising.

Myeloma is often diagnosed after spreading to more than one area of the body. Known as multiple myeloma, this is the most common type of myeloma. However, it is possible to have a single cancerous tumor (solitary plasmacytoma). Whether found in one place or many, myeloma cancer often grows in the hips, pelvis, rib cage, shoulders, skull and spine. Because plasma makes antibodies to fight infection, those with myeloma often experience frequent infections.

Myeloma at UK Markey Cancer Center

More than 1,500 patients have received transplants from the Hematology and Blood & Marrow Transplant Program at UK HealthCare since the program was founded in 1982. Part of the UK Markey Cancer Center, our program features a 15-bed inpatient unit where all rooms are private and positive-pressure HEPA-filtered.

The Hematology and Blood & Marrow Transplant team treats all blood-related diseases, including aplastic anemia and other conditions that stem from a bone marrow failure, as well as some solid neoplastic diseases. Our experts perform both autologous transplants, which use stem cells from the patient, and allogeneic procedures, which use stem cells from a donor. 

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 20 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. For the last five years, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

Myeloma symptoms may include:

  • Feeling short of breath
  • Frequent infections of the sinuses, urinary tract or elsewhere, with no obvious cause
  • Kidney abnormalities
  • Ongoing tiredness that may worsen over time
  • Persistent or frequent pain in the back or other bones 
  • Swelling of the hands, feet or other extremities

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year relative survival rate for a solitary plasmacytoma, a tumor growing in a single area of bone, is 75 percent. For multiple myeloma that has spread throughout the body, the survival rate is 53 percent.

You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal, and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.
  • Age. According to the American Cancer Society, you’re most likely to experience myeloma after age 65.
  • Chemical exposure. There may be a connection between regular exposure to solvents, fuels, cleaning products and other chemicals and increased risk of multiple myeloma.
  • Ethnicity. African Americans have twice the risk of myeloma as white Americans.
  • Family history. Those whose parent or sibling have myeloma are more likely to have it themselves.
  • Obesity. Carrying extra weight increases your risk of myeloma.
  • Gender. Women are less likely to get myeloma than men.
  • Viral infections. Living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis or other chronic viruses may trigger myeloma.
  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the registration area on the first floor of the Ben F. Roach Cancer Care Facility.
  • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. At Markey, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case and applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating myeloma.

Markey Cancer Center is NCI-designated

The UK Markey Cancer Center was first designated by the National Cancer Institute in 2013 – a distinction that recognizes our extraordinary ability to provide world-class care for our patients. We are the only NCI-Designated Cancer Center in Kentucky and one of only 71 in the nation.

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