Risk factors are things that can heighten a person’s chance of developing cancer – but they do not directly cause cancer. Just as someone with no risk factors can go on to develop cancer, it’s equally possible for someone to have several risk factors and never develop cancer.
The causes of multiple myeloma are not clear. Being aware of the risk factors for multiple myeloma and discussing them with your doctor is a great step to take toward early diagnosis and treatment.
What are the risk factors for multiple myeloma?
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.
Multiple myeloma treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
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.