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What is a Myeloma Protein?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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A myeloma protein is generally considered to be an immunuglobulin fragment or a certain type of antibody produced by myeloma cells that have become malignant, or cancerous. This type of cancer is referred to as myeloma. Plasma cells are also capable of producing myeloma protein. Other names typically given to this specific type of protein include paraprotein, M protein, or spike protein.

Myeloma, a specific form of cancer, occurs when abnormal plasma cells containing the myeloma protein begin to multiply and spread throughout various body tissues. Since the plasma cells are primarily located in the bone marrow, this is the most common area of the body in which to find myeloma protein. Some specific problems arising from the accumulation of myeloma protein include kidney, or renal damage as well as thick blood and a compromised immune system.

With the accumulation of myeloma protein within the body due to the proliferation of the myeloma cells, the formation of tumors becomes a concern. A tumor is basically a localized collection of abnormal cells that have the potential to grow and spread into other areas of the body. Sometimes the tumors will spread into surrounding tissues and organs. At other times, the tumor will move into the lymph glands or into the bloodstream. When this happens, multiple parts of the body can become affected, making treatment more difficult.

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As the malignant cells begin to spread, the affected tissues and organs are compromised and are no longer able to function at full capacity. In the case of myeloma, the most frequently affected body parts are the hips, spine, and skull. This is due to the fact that the plasma cells containing the myeloma protein are located mostly in the bone marrow.

In many cases, the cells containing the myeloma protein tend to gather together in clumps and spread to various areas of the body. This is referred to as multiple myeloma. If the abnormal cells are found only in one location, it is then called plasmacytoma. While a case of plasmacytoma can be easier to treat than multiple myeloma, it often returns many times and must be monitored and treated accordingly.

If the myeloma is diagnosed in the earliest of stages, there are several treatment options available. Sometimes, the doctor will take a wait and see approach, monitoring the condition and treating only when damage to the body has begun to occur. Other treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, or steroid treatment.

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anon298427
Post 3

@burinc: Please do all you can to receive a correct diagnosis. Get plain films, a CT, or an MRI (if possible) of your hip. Most hip pain is related to arthritis or degenerative disease which come with aging and not from more serious causes. Don't let it linger on - it is not worth the worry.

ddljohn
Post 2

@burcinc-- The pain could be difficult to distinguish but there are additional symptoms that a myeloma patient suffers from that a regular hip or back strain would not experience. Individuals with multiple myeloma and accumulated protein experience prolonged and intensified pain in their limbs, hip or back which can be accompanied by fractures. Loss of appetite and weight are also seen, as well as anemia and in advanced stages, kidney problems and kidney failure. Doctors will look for these symptoms in addition to pain for myeloma diagnosis.

burcinc
Post 1

I've had hip pain for the past few weeks and I don't remember doing anything specifically to cause it -- I just woke up with it one day, so now I'm scared that I've got some sort of myeloma. How can the hip and back pain associated with myeloma be distinguished from a regular hip problem?

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