Plasma cells help the body's immune system fight disease by producing substances called antibodies. Multiple myeloma occurs when plasma cells grow out of control. Too many plasma cells can form a tumor in the bone marrow called a myeloma. Many tumors are called multiple myeloma.
The excess growth of plasma cells interferes with body's ability to make red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This causes anemia and makes a person more likely to get infections and have abnormal bleeding.
As the cancer cells grow in the bone marrow, they cause pain and destruction of the bones. If the bones in the spine are affected, it can put pressure on the nerves, resulting in numbness or paralysis.
Multiple myeloma mainly affects older adults. A history of radiation therapy raises your risk for this type of cancer.
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