NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Multiple Myeloma - page 6

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NCCN Guidelines for Patients™: Multiple Myeloma
Version 1.2012
1.1 What are plasma cells?
Blood is made of many cells. Three common types,
called blood cells, are platelets, red blood cells, and white
blood cells. Platelets help control bleeding. Red blood
cells carry oxygen throughout the body. White blood cells
help fight infection.
Blood cells are made in bone marrow. See Figure 1.
Bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of most
bones. In adults, there are two types of marrow—yellow
and red. Fat cells are made in yellow marrow. In red
marrow, there are stem cells from which all blood cells
are formed.
As shown in Figure 2, many classes of white blood cells
are formed from a blood stem cell. B-cells are one class
of white blood cells. When germs invade the body, B-cells
change into plasma cells. In a healthy person, less than 5
out of 100 blood cells in bone marrow are plasma cells.
Plasma cells make antibodies. Antibodies (also called
immunoglobulins) are proteins that attach to germs to
help your body find and kill them. Each type of plasma
cell makes only one class of antibody, which is designed
to attack the specific germ-causing illness. There are five
classes of antibodies, and each differs in how it fights
germs. Without enough different plasma cells to make all
five classes of antibodies in response to germs, the body
can’t fight illnesses.
Figure 1. Blood cells in bone marrow
Illustration Copyright © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
Figure 2. ‘Family tree’ of blood cells
Illustration Copyright © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
1,2,3,4,5 7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,...84
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