NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Multiple Myeloma - page 10

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Multiple Myeloma, Version 1.2014
About multiple myeloma
How do plasma cells become multiple myeloma?
How do plasma cells become
multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma (also simply called myeloma) is a
cancer that starts in plasma cells. Plasma cells grow
and then divide to make new cells. New cells are
made as the body needs them. When plasma cells
grow old or get damaged, they die.
Genes are the instructions in cells for making new
cells and controlling how cells behave. Changes in
their genes turn plasma cells into myeloma cells. An
abnormal change in a gene is called a gene mutation
or defect.
In contrast to plasma cells, myeloma cells make new
cells that aren’t needed and don’t die quickly when
old or damaged.
See Figure 1.3.
The myeloma
cells continue to make more and more copies of
themselves. As a result, a group of myeloma cells
with the same genetic defect forms.
One mass of myeloma cells is called a solitary
plasmacytoma. Over time, the myeloma cells can
grow enough to crowd out normal blood cells in
the bone marrow, invade bone tissue, and spread
throughout the body. This is called multiple myeloma.
Illustration Copyright © 2014 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
Figure 1.3
Plasma versus
myeloma cell growth
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,...82
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