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Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors

Multiple myeloma risk factors are not well understood, mainly because the specific causes of the condition have not been conclusively established. Research is ongoing, and many scientists now believe that multiple myeloma may result from the combined effects of several genetic and environmental elements.

Studies have identified several multiple myeloma risk factors, which include:

  • Age – In the majority of multiple myeloma cases, the patient is age 65 or older at the time of diagnosis.
  • Family history – In a small number of cases, the patient has a relative, such as a parent or sibling, who was also diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
  • Other plasma cell conditions – Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and solitary plasmacytomas often progress to multiple myeloma.
  • Immune system impairment – Viruses that damage the body’s immune system, such as human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are sometimes associated with multiple myeloma.
  • Chemical and radiation exposure – Contact with certain insecticides, herbicides, petroleum products, heavy metals, plastics and asbestos, as well as prior radiation exposure, may influence the likelihood that an individual will develop the condition.
  • Occupational exposure – The incidence of multiple myeloma tends to be higher than average among people in certain occupations, including agricultural and farm workers, cosmetologists, petroleum workers and employees in the leather industry.

It’s important to note, however, that none of these multiple myeloma risk factors are strongly associated with the condition. Furthermore, in most cases, the condition develops in individuals who have no known risk factors. If you believe you may have a heightened risk of developing multiple myeloma, it’s important to speak with a physician – particularly if you are experiencing symptoms, such as bone pain, fatigue or frequent infections.

The Malignant Hematology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center is dedicated to the research and treatment of all forms of hematologic cancer, including multiple myeloma. Our experienced physicians are available to provide advice and guidance to those who may be at risk, share prevention strategies and educate patients about symptoms. If a diagnosis is confirmed, Moffitt offers some of the most advanced treatment options and clinical trials in a single, convenient location.

Contact Moffitt to learn more about multiple myeloma risk factors, as well as diagnosis and treatment options, by completing our new patient registration form  or calling 1-888-663-3488. No referral is necessary.