My definition from stuff I’ve read so any errors will be as a result of me being dense and not understanding the information to hand!
Myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow arising from plasma cells. Instead of antibodies a useless monoclonal protein is produced thus leading to an increased susceptibility to infections. It also commonly affects bones. All our bones are constantly breaking down and renewing themselves however with myeloma the bones break down faster than they can be replaced resulting in weakened areas and potentially fractures.
Kidney damage can also occur as a result of calicum being released into the blood as a result of the bone damage which then blocks kidney function. Additionally in about 15% to 20% of people incomplete immunoglobulins are produced which in excess are particularly likely to damage the kidney.
Myeloma generally affects older people, the median* age of diagnosis being 68 or 71 depending on where you look, however it appears to be on the increase in people under 55. 4,000 people are diagnoised each year in the UK and 20,000 in the USA. Although classed as rare, acounting for 1% of cancers, myeloma is apparently one of the fastest growing cancers in respect of incidence in the western world.
At the moment myeloma is incurable but can be effectively treated/managed.
Statistically it generally picks on old black men.
I’m a white woman diagnosed at 39.
Statistically a myeloma patient has a 34% chance of making it five years after diagnosis.
Since I don’t fit the first statistic I’m certainly going to pay the second one no attention other than to leave it standing.
* Median is not the same as average! In this instance median means that 50% of people are diagnosed below 71 and 50% above 71.