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During the early stages of myeloma, there may be no symptoms. Often, patients first go to their doctor because of vague symptoms like fatigue, recurrent infections or back pain – which they may mistakenly believe to simply be signs that they're "getting older."

Most of the symptoms and complications of myeloma result from the excessively high number of plasma cells in the bone marrow and the presence of paraprotein in the blood or urine.

  Common symptoms of myeloma can include


  • Pain is the main reason 70% of myeloma patients first seek medical attention.
  • As myeloma cells invade the bone, they cause damage that weakens the bone, increasing the risk of fractures.
  • Pain is most frequently reported in the middle or lower back, in the ribs or in the hips. 

Fatigue can be due to:

  • The myeloma itself
  • One or more of its complications (for example, anemia)
  • Treatment (side-effect)

The excessively large number of abnormal plasma cells can decrease the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to anemia. 

Recurrent infections, cold sores The overcrowding in the bone marrow interferes with the production of healthy infection-fighting cells, reducing the ability of the immune system to fight off infections and illnesses.      

Tiredness accompanied by other symptoms

The breakdown of bone caused by myeloma causes excess calcium to accumulate in the blood (a condition known as "hypercalcemia"), which can lead to a number of different symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty in thinking
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst
  • Increaed urine production
  • Nausea and vomiting
Kidney problems

Kidney damage can occur as a result of:

  • Too much protein in the blood (which is filtered through the kidneys)
  • High levels of calcium in the blood (due to the breakdown of bone)
  • Excessive light chain proteins from the immunoglobulin in the urine 

Not all myeloma patients will have all (or even any) of the above symptoms and complications. 

These symptoms may not even be due to myeloma – they may be related to other health problems that cause the same symptoms.

That's why it's important for anyone experiencing these (or any other) symptoms to consult with a medical professional, so that any problem can be diagnosed – and treated – as early as possible. 

For more information, download the Multiple Myeloma Patient Handbook
Designed to provide educational support to patients, caregivers, families, and friends, this handbook gives accurate, reliable, and clear information on myeloma. Topics cover its causes and effects, how it is diagnosed, and the treatment options available in Canada.
Download it now.