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Diagnosing & Treating Myeloma in Arizona


Myeloma is a type of blood cancer. It affects the bone marrow and plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce antibodies — a vital part of your immune system. Your bone marrow is where blood cells, including plasma cells, develop. With myeloma, abnormal plasma cells build up and crowd out healthy ones. These abnormal cells also interfere with antibody production. 

There are several forms of myeloma. The most common type — affecting more than 90 percent of people with myeloma — is multiple myeloma. So named because myeloma is present in several or multiple areas of the body. 

Call 888.670.6341 or use our online tool to find a Dignity Health oncologist with expertise in treating myeloma in Arizona. Our University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center headquartered in Arizona. We also offer cancer care at our Chandler Regional Medical Center campus.

 

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

People with myeloma may or may not have symptoms early in the disease, which is why myeloma tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage. As the disease develops, signs and symptoms include: 

  • Anemia (low number of red blood cells) leading to tiredness and weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Fractures
  • Frequent infections
  • High calcium levels in the blood
  • High protein levels in the blood or urine
  • Kidney problems
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning in the hands or feet

 

What Causes Multiple Myeloma?

Health experts do not know exactly what causes any cancer, including myeloma. They do know genetic (DNA) defects are the root cause, but how and why some people and not others get these defects is not clear. 

There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing myeloma, including:

  • African American race
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, including fertilizers, pesticides, Agent Orange, and those used in petroleum-related industries
  • Family history of myeloma
  • Having monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or solitary plasmacytoma
  • Male gender
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Radiation exposure

 

Treatment and prevention of myeloma

At Dignity Health, we offer a whole-person philosophy of care to treat myeloma. Your cancer care team includes pharmacists, social workers, dietitians, and spiritual care experts as well as board certified surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

Treatment options depend on the stage of myeloma. It is not possible to cure myeloma. Instead, treatment focuses on managing symptoms, achieving long-term remission (which means no sign of cancer in your body), and prolonging life. Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant. You may also need medicines to treat anemia and bone pain.

Utilizing the latest diagnostic imaging available and most advanced treatment methods, Dignity Health provides comprehensive care for myeloma in Arizona.