Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed malignancies of plasma cells, which are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Lymphocytes are the main cell type of the immune system. The major types of lymphocytes are T-cells and B-cells, which mature into plasma cells when responding to an infection.
Multiple myeloma is characterized by several features, including low blood counts, bone and calcium problems, infections, kidney problems, monoclonal gammopathy, and others; and by the proliferation of these plasma cells within bone marrow.
Its prevalence in the United States is reported to be approximately 77,600 cases with approximately 24,000 new cases in 2014. Average five-year survival rates are estimated to be less than 45% with survival rates depending on factors such as age, stage of diagnosis and suitability for auto-SCT, which is used as part of the treatment for eligible patients with multiple myeloma. Despite recent therapeutic advances, multiple myeloma remains an incurable but treatable cancer. Patients are typically treated with repeat rounds of combination therapy with the time intervals to relapse becoming shorter with each successive line of therapy. The majority of patients eventually have a relapse, which cannot be further treated. At this late stage, median survival is only six to nine months and treatment is primarily palliative to reduce symptoms and manage quality of life.