Multiple myeloma (from ''myelo-'', bone marrow), also known as MM, myeloma, plasma cell myeloma, or as Kahler's disease (after Otto Kahler) is a cancer of the white blood cells known as plasma cells.
A type of B cell, plasma cells are a crucial part of the immune system responsible for the production of antibodies in humans and other vertebrates. They are produced in the bone marrow and populate, and are transported through, the lymphatic system.
Due to the fundamental nature of the system affected, multiple myeloma manifests systemic symptoms that make it difficult to diagnose. Myeloma is generally thought to be incurable, but remissions may be induced with steroids, chemotherapy, thalidomide and stem cell transplants.
There were 15,270 cases diagnosed and 11,070 deaths in the United States in 2004, and an incidence of 4/100,000 worldwide. Median survival is 50–55 months. Chromosome diagnosis can separate patients into more or less favorable prognoses.
Myeloma is part of the broad group of diseases called hematological malignancies.
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