Is Multiple Myeloma Fatal?

While no cure exists for multiple myeloma as of 2015, most individuals diagnosed with the condition can slow the progression through treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants, and live for many years, states WebMD. Multiple myeloma often returns after a remission, however.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the white blood cells in bone marrow in which rapidly dividing and multiplying plasma cells overtake the healthy red blood cells and weaken the immune system, explains WebMD. The proliferation of plasma cells in the marrow causes leakage and spreading of the cells to other parts of the body where damage is often incurred by the bones and vital organs, such as the kidneys. Multiple myeloma is usually not detected until it has advanced to other regions of the body and is causing symptoms, such as pain in the bones, shortness of breath, fatigue and weakness, and confusion.

Chemotherapy drugs are often combined with other treatments, such as radiation and steroid drugs, to slow the progression of multiple myeloma, states WebMD. Drugs that prevent the cancer cells from multiplying and dividing and others that retard the growth of the new blood cells that are sustaining the cancer cells are additional treatment methods. Stem cell transplants utilize healthy bone marrow cells from the patient or a closely matched donor to replace the cancerous cells and catalyze the growth of healthy bone marrow cells.