Plasma cell neoplasms occur when abnormal plasma cells form cancerous tumors in bone or soft tissue. When there is only one tumor, the disease is called a plasmacytoma. When there are multiple tumors, it is called multiple myeloma. Explore the links on this page to learn more about multiple myeloma treatment, statistics, research, and clinical trials.

Plasma Cell Neoplasms

  • Plasma cell neoplasms are diseases in which the body makes too many plasma cells.
  • Plasma cell neoplasms can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
  • There are several types of plasma cell neoplasms.
    • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
    • Plasmacytoma
    • Multiple myeloma
  • Multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms may cause a condition called amyloidosis.
  • Age can affect the risk of plasma cell neoplasms.
  • Tests that examine the blood, bone marrow, and urine are used to diagnose multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Plasma cell neoplasms are diseases in which the body makes too many plasma cells.

Plasma cells develop from B lymphocytes (B cells), a type of white blood cell that is made in the bone marrow. Normally, when bacteria or viruses enter the body, some of the B cells will change into plasma cells. The plasma cells make antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses, to stop infection and disease.

Plasma cell neoplasms are diseases in which abnormal plasma cells or myeloma cells form tumors in the bones or soft tissues of the body. The plasma cells also make an antibody protein, called M protein, that is not needed by the body and does not help fight infection. These antibody proteins build up in the bone marrow and can cause the blood to thicken or can damage the kidneys.

Plasma cell neoplasms can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is not cancer but can become cancer. The following types of plasma cell neoplasms are cancer:

  • Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. (See Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment for more information.)
  • Plasmacytoma.
  • Multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms may cause a condition called amyloidosis.

In rare cases, multiple myeloma can cause peripheral nerves (nerves that are not in the brain or spinal cord) and organs to fail. This may be caused by a condition called amyloidosis. Antibody proteins build up and stick together in peripheral nerves and organs, such as the kidney and heart. This can cause the nerves and organs to become stiff and unable to work the way they should.

Amyloidosis may cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Feeling very tired.
  • Purple spots on the skin.
  • Enlarged tongue.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Swelling caused by fluid in your body’s tissues.
  • Tingling or numbness in your legs and feet.

Age can affect the risk of plasma cell neoplasms.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk.

Plasma cell neoplasms are most common in people who are middle aged or older. For multiple myeloma and plasmacytoma, other risk factors include the following:

  • Being black.
  • Being male.
  • Having a personal history of MGUS or plasmacytoma.
  • Being exposed to radiation or certain chemicals.

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis depends on the following:

  • The type of plasma cell neoplasm.
  • The stage of the disease.
  • Whether a certain immunoglobulin (antibody) is present.
  • Whether there are certain genetic changes.
  • Whether the kidney is damaged.
  • Whether the cancer responds to initial treatment or recurs (comes back).

 

What is Cancer?

  • Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

  • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the risk of getting cancer. This can include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing.

  • Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Most often these symptoms are not caused by cancer, but by benign tumors or other problems. If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests or other procedures to find out what is causing your symptoms.