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Why Is It Called Multiple Myeloma? (Revisited)

Home/Why Is It Called Multiple Myeloma? (Revisited)

Why Is It Called Multiple Myeloma? (Revisited)

I wrote this post back in June about how multiple myeloma got it’s name:

My good friend, Karl Vollstedt, is the founder of our multiple myeloma support group in Stillwater, Minnesota. After listening to our members discuss their various ailments and treatments during a meeting, Karl is fond of saying “Well, as you all know, that is why they call it multiple myeloma. There are multiple ways this disease effects each of us.” Hard to argue with that, Karl! But according to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, myeloma describes an area, usually in the bone marrow, where a profusion of cells form a tumor or lesion, eventually causing destruction of the bone. Multiple myeloma simply refers to this process being repeated in a number of different sites in the ribs, vertebrae, pelvic and other large bones. In most cases, the effects of myeloma are found in more than one location at the time of diagnosis. Thus the name, multiple myeloma. But since myeloma almost always progresses to multiple locations and describes the same disorder, it is certainly appropriate to use “myeloma” in either case. I use both terms interchangeably and lean toward using myeloma more often, if, for no other reason than it is shorter! Using that logic, I suppose I should just use MM or mm to describe our affliction. Or how about this: CANCER. There, I said it! Like over 1.6 million Americans each year, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma means cancer. It is a growing, now not very exclusive club. Does that mean if I don’t pay my dues I can be kicked out of the club?

And keep in mind that “multiple myeloma” is really a catch-all name for eighty or more different disorders. Another reason why one type of treatment works for one patient, yet it doesn’t help another. Genetics may be an important key here. I will re-visit that topic tomorrow.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat