Does Multiple Myeloma Cause High White Blood Cell Count?

Healthy bone marrow produces stem cells which differentiate into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Each of these blood components has a definite function such as red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body, white blood cells to fight against infections and platelets for the formation of blood clots to prevent bleeding. Any abnormal formation of the blood components alter the functioning of the body, certain conditions can even result in malignant diseases.

The complications of decreased number of blood cells include-

Anemia: The decreased number of red blood cells causes the decreased supply of oxygen to the body resulting in fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath and dizziness

Leucopenia: Decreased number of healthy white blood cells impairs the immune system. The body is at increased risk of infection due to lower resistance leading to pneumonia and other infections.

Thrombocytopenia: It refers to decreased platelet count. There will be increased bleeding even at minor cuts. It can be life-threatening in case of accidents as the body finds it difficult to stop bleeding.

Does Multiple Myeloma Cause High White Blood Cell Count?

Multiple myeloma is a malignant form of the disease where plasma cells, a type of blood cells are affected. Plasma cells neoplasms are not necessarily cancerous in nature. The increased number of plasma cells can be because of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), Plasmacytoma or Multiple myeloma. The plasma cell neoplasms complication causes amyloidosis in many cases. The risk of developing plasma cell neoplasms increases with age. The plasma cells are examined for disease by blood, urine and bone marrow. The prognosis of plasma cell neoplasms depends upon the age, individual’s response towards the treatment and overall health status. (1)

As the name says there will be increased production of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. It would be interesting to know how the plasma cells are formed. B cells also called B lymphocytes to differentiate into plasma cells. These cells produce antibodies in response to foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses. These antibodies fight against the infection and are an important part of the immune -system. The normal functioning of plasma cells is altered in plasma cell neoplasms including multiple myeloma. There will be the formation of abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow these cells can form tumors called plasmacytoma. The cancerous plasma cells produce a number of antibodies resulting in thickening of the blood making it difficult for bone marrow to produce healthy blood cells. The major complication of multiple myeloma is weakening of bones. These tumors can also be formed in soft tissues of the body. (2)

Plasma cells produce an antibody protein, called M protein which does not have any beneficial effect in fighting against infections. The thickening of blood can also damage kidneys. In Multiple myelomas, there will be a decrease in the number of healthy blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets). The plasma cell tumor causes hypercalcemia wherein the calcium gets deposited in the kidneys, nerves, heart, muscles, and digestive tract. The complications of multiple myeloma include frequent infection, thinning and broken bones and decreased kidney function, including kidney failure. Kidney problems are due to high calcium levels and also due to the proteins produced by the myeloma cells. (3)

Conclusion

Multiple myelomas are cancer of plasma cells, a form of white blood cells. The bone marrow will make more of the myeloma cells than the healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The increased number of plasma cells results in plasmacytoma or multiple myeloma. The tumors can be formed in bone or soft tissues. In the case of bones, it causes weakening of bones. The lower number of blood cells results in anemia, leucopenia, and thrombocytopenia.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK261/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5386647/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24963470

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