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How Did I Get Multiple Myeloma & Who Is At Risk?

The exact cause of multiple myeloma is not known. This is the cancer of the plasma cells and like any other cancer; there is misinformation in the cell regarding the growth and development of the cells. The apoptosis process is disrupted and there is an uncontrolled cellular division. There are various risk factors that increase the chance of developing multiple myeloma.

How Did I Get Multiple Myeloma?

There is no known cause of multiple myeloma. The research is going on to evaluate the exact reason for multiple myeloma. However, till now the researches have made us understand the progression of multiple myeloma. (1)

Various changes occur in the DNA of plasma cells, which are the part of the immune system that leads to making them malignant. Two types of genes are present in a cell. One gene regulates the growth of the cell and is called oncogenes. The other genes are those genes that reduce the speed of cell growth and induce apoptosis. When there is an alteration in the information of the DNA, technically known as a mutation, this results in either domination of oncogene or suppression of tumor suppression genes, this result in the development of cancerous cells.

Myeloma cells have a various mutation in their genes. This results in their malignancy. The genes involved in cancerous cells in multiple myeloma are MYC, which is an oncogene and develops in the early stage of the disease, and RAS genes are found in myeloma cells after treatment. Some genes are also responsible for the spread of cancer to other organs such as p53 which is a tumor suppressor gene.

Excessive secretion of interleukin-6 by the dendritic cells of the bone marrow also plays an important role in the development of multiple myeloma.

Chromosomal abnormalities are also seen in multiple myeloma cells. Duplication, translocation, and deletion have seen in the chromosomes of myeloma cells. Duplication is the presence of extra chromosome and deletion is the absence of chromosomes. Translocation is the process of switching of one part of the chromosome with one part of another chromosome. It has also been found that deletion of chromosome such as number 17 increases the severity of disease with poor prognosis as it is less responsive towards treatment.

Who Is At Risk?

Although the exact cause of multiple myeloma is not known, various factors increase the risk of occurrence of multiple myeloma-

Age– Risk of multiple myeloma increases as the person moves onto a higher age. The risk of developing multiple myeloma is higher in people with more than 60 years of age.

Underlying Disease– Various underlying diseases also increase the risk of developing multiple myeloma. One such disease is monoclonal gammopathy of undermined significance. Almost 1% of the people with this condition develop multiple myeloma later in their life

Family History– If there is any person in the family suffering from this condition such as parents or siblings, then the risk of contracting this disease increases.

Ethnicity– Ethnicity is also a risk factor for the development of multiple myeloma. It has been found that people with black skin color are relatively at more risk as compared to white people.

Sex– The risk of developing multiple myeloma is more in males as compared to females.

Environmental Factors– Various environmental factors also increase the risk of multiple myeloma. Some of these factors are related to occupation. People working in petroleum and leather industry are more prone to multiple myeloma.


Research is undergoing to conclude the exact cause leading to multiple myeloma. Various mutations in the genes that regulate the cellular growth, division and apoptosis are thought to be the primary reason behind cancer. There are a duplication, deletion and translocation of chromosomes and oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are also mutated. The factors that increase the risk of multiple myeloma are age, sex, ethnicity, environment, and underlying disease.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 22, 2021

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