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Is Myelodysplastic Syndrome The Same As Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome are different conditions although both the conditions are related to blood and involve the blood cells. Both the conditions have no characteristic symptoms in the early stage while the almost similar symptoms are present at the later stage.Is Myelodysplastic Syndrome The Same As Multiple Myeloma?Is Myelodysplastic Syndrome The Same As Multiple Myeloma?

Both myelodysplastic syndrome and multiple myeloma are blood disorders and are associated with the blood cells. However, there is a subtle pathophysiological difference between both the conditions. In multiple myeloma, only the plasma cells of the body are affected and they, though abnormal growth, becomes malignant cells while there is no direct reduction in the concentration of the other blood cells such as RBC and platelets. However, in the later stage of the disease, when the number of cancerous plasma cells increases, the concentration of other cells gets reduced leading to certain symptoms similar to myelodysplastic syndrome.

Myelodysplastic syndrome, on the other hand, is the condition in which there is a problem in the hemopoietic stem cells present in the bone marrow. The malignancy of these cells results in the production of abnormal blood cells which does not get mature. Thus, there is a direct reduction in the number of all types of blood cells including RBC, WBC, and platelets. The condition has a high risk of progression into acute leukemia. Both multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome can be cured with stem cell transplant but the success rate varies.(1)

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myelomas are a type of blood cancer in which the number of plasma cells increased. The bone marrow is invaded with the malignant plasma cells resulting in a reduction of healthy cells. Plasma cells are the type of White Blood Cells that take part in regulating the immune system and helps fight against the disease. However, in the case of multiple myeloma, the plasma cells so produced are not able to effectively perform their function, thus, the risk of infection in patients suffering from multiple myeloma increases. The malignant plasma cells produce the M-protein, a higher level of which is the characteristic feature of few diseases including multiple myeloma. The immune system is at a low level even when the number of antibodies present in the blood is high. This is due to the reason that these antibodies are secreted by malignant cells and are not effective in providing any sort of protection. The proteins secreted by the cancerous cells affect the other organs such as kidney leading to kidney failure. The condition cannot be cured but can be transformed into a remission state. The aim of the therapy is to slow the progression of the disease and to keep the disease in remission stage.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Myelodysplastic syndrome is a type of blood disorder in which the immature cells originated from the stem cells fails to get matured. Thus, the number of all the matured cells, i.e. RBC, WBC, and Platelets gets reduced. The condition can be treated permanently though stem cell transplant; however, this option is not available to all the patients due to certain restrictions attached to it. The symptoms are generally associated with a reduced number of cells. Reduction in RBC causes less oxygen transport to the tissues leading to fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain. Reduced number of WBC increases the risk of infection while low platelet concentration may lead to prolonged bleeding and hemorrhages in the subcutaneous region. The condition does not have symptoms at the initial stage and is generally diagnosed through a routine blood test. However, the symptoms start appearing as the disease progresses to a later stage.(3)


Myelodysplastic syndrome is different from multiple myeloma. While the myeloblastic syndrome is the condition that involves all the three types of blood cells i.e. RBC, WBC and Platelets and the number of mature blood cells gets reduced while multiple myeloma involves malignancy of plasma cells. Plasma cells are the type of white blood cells which is a part of the immune system.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 23, 2021

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