Why choose us for multiple myeloma care?
Multiple myeloma is cancer affecting the tissue inside your bones (bone marrow). At Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, leading cancer specialists work together to deliver precise care.
We often catch early signs of the disease, which can lower your risk of later complications such as broken bones. You’ll have an individualized care plan that includes advanced treatments and medications, close to home.
Multiple myeloma is one of many forms of blood cancer we treat. Find out more about our hematology oncology program.
What you need to know about multiple myeloma
- This type of cancer, also known as bone marrow cancer, begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. These cells form in the bone marrow, part of the immune system, and help your body fight illness.
- As the cancer progresses, abnormal cells collect in the bone marrow and solid parts of the bone crowding out healthy cells. They weaken your immune system and bones.
- The condition is called “multiple” myeloma because cancer cells often form in multiple areas of bone marrow. Sometimes it’s just called “myeloma.”
- Multiple myeloma most often affects older adults. Our team includes geriatric oncologists who specialize in meeting the unique needs of elderly cancer patients.
How to talk to your doctor about multiple myeloma
You are likely to have questions after receiving a multiple myeloma diagnosis, especially if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. Our team takes time to provide the answers and reassurance you need.
You might want to ask your doctor about:
- Additional testing that may be necessary to confirm a multiple myeloma diagnosis
- Cancer stage, how advanced the cancer is and if it is likely to spread
- Treatments, which may include established medications and new options through clinical trials, if you are eligible
- Potential treatment side effects and therapies that provide relief
- Support to help you cope with the ways multiple myeloma may affect your daily life
We explain tests and treatments in ways that are easier to understand so you can make informed decisions about your care. You are welcome to bring loved ones with you to care appointments for the support you need.
There are many forms of multiple myeloma. Each one represents different proteins that the myeloma cell produces. We carefully analyze your individual condition to determine the type and recommend the right care.
The two main types are:
- Smoldering, which does not cause symptoms
- Active, which causes symptoms, such as bone pain
In the early stages of multiple myeloma, you might not notice any symptoms.
As the disease progresses, you may experience:
- Brittle or broken bones
- Frequent urination, which may be a sign of kidney complications
- Severe thirst
- Unexpected weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
We use blood and urine tests to check for high levels of abnormal substances, such as specific types of protein. We may also perform a bone marrow biopsy, a procedure to take a tissue sample. Doctors who diagnose blood disorders, hematopathologists, evaluate the sample to determine the type of multiple myeloma and how advanced it is.
Imaging tests, including X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), help us pinpoint and measure bone damage.
We may perform other assessments, including genomic testing, to determine the most appropriate treatment therapies for your situation.
For complex cases, blood cancer experts, hematopathologists, radiologists and other specialists gather in meetings called tumor boards. We discuss the diagnosis in detail so you receive appropriate care right from the start.
Treatment for active multiple myeloma often includes medications. You may receive steroids to destroy abnormal cells and decrease inflammation. We also offer targeted therapy, a type of cancer drug that’s gentler on your body than chemotherapy. Find out more about targeted therapy.
Because multiple myeloma disproportionately affects older adults, you may want to know that we specialize in meeting the unique needs of older adults with cancer. To help you have a safe, comfortable experience, we tailor cancer medication doses to your needs. We may also adjust your therapies to avoid conflicts with medicines you take for other conditions.
Our complete approach to care includes therapies to prevent and treat complications, such as weakened bones. Cancer dietitians recommend foods that help you get the nutrients you need. You may also receive physical therapy to help build strength and lower your risk of broken bones.
Research and clinical trials
Our research is advancing care possibilities for people with cancers affecting the blood and bone marrow. If you’re eligible, you may have the option of participating in these efforts — and possibly benefiting from new treatments — through clinical trials. We offer trials that, in some cases, are only available in select programs nationwide.
Get more information about cancer clinical trials and research.
Get cancer care
Take the first step by visiting our cancer experts for testing, a second opinion or to learn about treatment options.
View multiple myeloma clinical trial opportunities
Clinical trials help researchers evaluate new therapies before making them available to the public. Mays Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in Central and South Texas, which means you have early access to clinical trials for which you are eligible.
Meet our team
Our team includes cancer experts from different medical specialties who share a commitment to delivering precise, personalized care.