NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Multiple Myeloma - page 7

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NCCN Guidelines for Patients™: Multiple Myeloma
Version 1.2012
Part 1: About pancreatic cancer
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Definitions:
DNA:
A chain of chemicals
inside cells
Oxygen:
A gas in the air
that the body needs to live
Stem cell:
An immature
cell from which other types
of cells develop
1.2 How do plasma cells be ome multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma (also simply called myeloma) is a cancer that starts in plasma
cells. Plasma cells grow and then divide to form new cells. New cells are formed
as the body needs them. Genes are the instructions for making new cells and
are found in the DNA (
d
eoxyribo
n
ucleic
a
cid) of every cell. When plasma cells
grow old or their DNA gets damaged, they die.
Changes in their genes turn plasma cells into myeloma cells. In contrast to
plasma cells, myeloma cells make new cells that aren’t needed and don’t die
quickly when old or damaged (Figure 3). The myeloma cells continue to make
more and more copies of themselves. As a result, a group of myeloma cells,
all with the same genetic defect, forms. One mass of myeloma cells is called
a solitary plasmacytoma. Over time, myeloma cells can grow large enough
to crowd out normal blood cells in marrow, invade bone tissue, and spread
throughout the body. This is called multiple myeloma.
Figure 3. Plasma versus myeloma cell growth
Illustration Copyright © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
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