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Multiple Myeloma & Myeloid Leukemia Are Bone Marrow Cancer Cousins

Posted on September 22 2010 by Pat Killingsworth | 8,773 views

Here is a brief overview of the similarities and differences between multiple myeloma and myeloid leukemia I found on Note some myeloma patients later develop acute myeloid leukemia as well:

Multiple myeloma and myeloid leukemia have much in common. The names are similar, because they are both cancers that start in the bone marrow. Many of the symptoms are similar, and even some of the same drugs are used to treat both diseases. However, they are two distinctly different entities.

Cell Types
Multiple myeloma and myeloid leukemia involve different cell types. Multiple myeloma involve a type of B cell called a plasma cell. The name “myeloma” is somewhat deceiving because this cancer does not involve myeloid cells. It gets its name because it arises in the myelium, or bone marrow. The National Cancer Institute explains that myleloid leukemia arises in myeloblasts, which are derived from the myeloid line of cells. These cells also arise in the bone marrow, but they are not plasma cells.

Although patients with multiple myeloma and myeloid leukemia both suffer from anemia, bruising and infections, explains that patients with multiple myeloma suffer bone fractures in parts of the bone where the cancer is lodged. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society expands on this saying that 90 percent of patients have cancer lodged in different bony locations, which is why it is referred to as “multiple.”

Co-Existing Conditions
To further complicate matters, some patients with multiple myeloma later get a type of myeloid leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. In 2006, a group from New York University Medical Center published a paper in the “Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine” describing a 81-year-old man who presented with AML four years after being successfully treated for multiple myeloma. The scientific literature is rife with specific examples of this.

With multiple myeloma patients living longer and enduring years of extended maintenance therapy, will we start seeing more cases of AML? Just when you thought there wasn’t anything more to worry about…

So don’t worry! Feel good and keep smiling! Pat

10 Comments For This Post

  1. Nick Says:

    AML is, from my conversations along these lines before I started treatment, is related to "old school" chemotherapy (such as adriamycin, platinum, doxirubicin, etc.) and even then is pretty rare. My doctor tracked his transplant patients (all of whom get these and more) for seven years with Sloan Kettering and didn't find a single case among several hundred people so they stopped even looking for it. He hasn't had anybody present.

    But it certainly is in the realm of possibility if the dosing of these things is cavalier.

    It should not have any relationship to novel agents used in maintenance therapy, as far as I know.

  2. Pat and Pattie Killingsworth Says:

    Reassuring, Nick. Still, you have to wonder what long term affects–if any–will result from the use of novel therapies. No need to comment back… I know, I know… It beats the alternative! Pat

  3. Laura Says:

    Chemotherapy can be traumatic for children and their families who are also sharing the pain. Some other forms of therapy are also necessary for the mental stress. National Childrens Leukemia Foundation offers many programs, like dance and martial arts programs, that help the children with cancer. It also helps them bond with their siblings. Great article, thanks for the post.

  4. Pat and Pattie Killingsworth Says:

    Thanks, Laura! Good suggestion- Pat

  5. Connie Says:

    My dad died of AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and I found out yesterday that his dad (whom I never knew) died of Multiple Myeloma Bone Marrow Cancer, hence me coming to this site. Is this hereditary? I was told AML is not.

  6. Pat and Pattie Killingsworth Says:

    "They say myeloma isn't hereditary, either. Two blood cancers could be a coincidence…

    I would watch for unexplained fatigue, pain under the arms, etc. but not freak out about it all. If and when you ever come down with one of these conditions, new drugs are getting so good should be no worries–as long as you have good insurance! Pat

  7. Connie Says:

    Thanks Pat. Don't get me started on healthcare! lol

  8. Pat and Pattie Killingsworth Says:

    Agreed! Pat

  9. sumaira Says:

    One of the most common and most popular forms of treatment for cancer is chemotherapy. This is nothing more than a name given to medications that assist an individual in combating the effects of cancer. These medications are chemical based and work to completely kill off cancer cells within the body. Hospitals bone marrow cancer treatment germany

  10. Lisa Says:

    My mom died of multiple myeloma in 1980. My 17 y/o son just finished treatment for AML in June. I have asked if there was a connection, but I don't think that it has been researched.

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