Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that occurs when plasma cells in the body start to overgrow in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell. Normally, as part of the immune system, plasma cells produce antibodies that help fight against disease and keep us healthy. In multiple myeloma, these plasma cells produce antibodies that are ineffective.
Multiple myeloma occurs when the overgrowth of plasma cells takes place in multiple areas of the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft spongy tissue in the middle part of the bone where blood cells are formed.
The average age of those receiving a diagnosis of multiple myeloma is 65 years. In Canada, about 2,700 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma every year. There is a 1 in 130 lifetime chance of developing multiple myeloma.