Expertise in Multiple Myeloma Treatment

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute is one of the top multiple myeloma cancer centers in the United States. Our Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program, often used for myeloma treatment, is one of the largest, most comprehensive programs of its kind in the Southeast.

Your Team of Multiple Myeloma Cancer Specialists

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute understands the power of teamwork in the fight against multiple myeloma. Our team of specialists supports you every step of the way, based on your personal goals — beginning with diagnosis through treatment, survivorship — and on to wellness.

Our myeloma team includes experts in hematology, medical and radiation oncology and surgical oncology. Your care team also includes pathologists, radiologists and certified genetic counselors with expertise in multiple myeloma.  

Additional aspects of our cancer program include:

  • New treatment options in our clinical trials program, one of the largest community-based oncology/hematology programs in the nation.
  • Seamless integration with Northside’s Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program.
  • Nurse navigators can help you throughout the treatment process.
  • Research nurses (when applicable) to help you better understand your cancer.
  • Social workers who you can lean on for social, emotional and spiritual support.
  • Dietitians to assist you with health and nutrition.
  • Rehabilitation specialists to help you maintain strength and energy for daily activities.

More About Myeloma Cancer

Myeloma is a type of blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found inside most bones. It’s where many types of blood cells form, including plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections.

Specifically, myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. The term “multiple myeloma” means that the cancer is in several different parts of the body.

Multiple Myeloma Cancer Symptoms 

Because multiple myeloma is a blood cancer, many of the common symptoms are related to problems with your blood cells. For example:

  • You may feel tired or short of breath due to a low red blood cell count (anemia).
  • You may get infections more easily because of a low white blood cell count.
  • You may experience increased bleeding from small cuts or scrapes or increased bruising because of a low blood platelet count.
  • You may feel extremely tired, thirsty, constipated and have other issues from having too much calcium in your blood.

Multiple myeloma can also weaken bones as the cancer cells grow in the bone marrow. Problems may include: 

  • Bone pain, often felt in the ribs, back, hips or skull.
  • Broken bones just from doing normal activities.
  • Numbness or weakness of the arms or legs caused by cancer in bones in the spine pressing on nerves in the spine.

Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors 

Currently, there is not a way to prevent multiple myeloma. In part, that’s because doctors still don’t know its exact cause.

However, we do know that African Americans are more than twice as likely to have multiple myeloma as white Americans. It’s diagnosed mostly in adults over the age of 50. And, men are slightly more at risk than women. Other risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radiation or certain chemicals.
  • Being very overweight.
  • Having other plasma cell diseases, such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or solitary plasmacytoma.

Diagnosing Your Multiple Myeloma 

At Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, our team may use the following tests to diagnose your type and stage of myeloma: 

Blood or urine tests: Diagnosis of multiple myeloma sometimes starts when the results of a routine blood test or urine test are abnormal. For example, doctors might be concerned if a blood or urine test shows:

  • Low counts of red cells, white cells or platelets in the blood.
  • Abnormal levels or types of specific antibodies in the blood.
  • Abnormal levels of certain proteins, calcium or other substances.

Imaging: Doctors may also perform one or more diagnostic imaging procedures, which involves getting a picture of the inside of your body using X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET). 

Biopsy: If doctors suspect multiple myeloma, they usually will perform a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration. They take a tiny bit of bone, marrow and liquid marrow using a needle. Then they test the tissue for cancer cells.

Comprehensive Multiple Myeloma Treatment Options 

Doctors sometimes closely monitor those with mild myeloma, rather than begin treatment. Some people have a form of multiple myeloma that grows slowly, called smoldering myeloma, which takes years to cause symptoms. 

Surgery is not usually used to treat multiple myeloma. Instead, treatment may include various types of medicines, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. 

Radiation therapy may be used to relieve bone pain or to shrink a tumor that is pushing on the spinal cord. Chemotherapy, which uses medicine to kill cancer cells, may also be an option. 

A bone marrow transplant may be recommended, as well. The Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the Southeast. Our bone marrow transplants have some of the best survival rates in the nation. 

Northside Hospital has a dedicated Research Program, which is one of the largest community-based oncology/hematology programs in the nation. With access to innovative clinical trials, our patients have an opportunity to receive best-in-class care and contribute to scientists’ knowledge about cancer and to help in the development of better cancer treatments. 

Considering the extensive treatment options for myeloma, you can count on Northside Hospital Cancer Institute experts to tailor a personalized multiple myeloma treatment plan to fit your specific needs.

Multiple Myeloma Support & Survivorship

Any cancer diagnosis can be devastating, but our cancer nurse navigators at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute are there to guide you through your cancer care. They can help to coordinate your care and help you to understand your treatment options. They can also connect you with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute extensive support and survivorship resources.

Learn more about our Cancer Support & Survivorship services