What Are Some Ways Medicine Classifies Types of Multiple Myeloma?


Quick Answer

Multiple myeloma is classified into stages based on either blood levels of calcium and hemoglobin or blood levels of beta-2 microglobulin, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine. The former classification contains four different stages, while the latter has three.

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Multiple myeloma is classified according to blood calcium levels and the damage to bones and kidneys in four stages: smoldering multiple myeloma, stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Smoldering multiple myeloma describes the earliest stages where the person has no symptoms or body damage. In stage 1, an individual has only slightly lower than normal hemoglobin levels and some organ damage as well as a few myeloma cells. More myeloma cells are found during stage 2 with decreasing hemoglobin levels and more organ damage. An individual with stage 3 multiple myeloma has high calcium and low hemoglobin levels in the blood as well as at least three areas of bone or organ damage.

Multiple myeloma is also classified according to the makeup of blood antibodies, states the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Antibodies released into the blood to fight multiple myeloma are different in their makeup of light and heavy chains depending on the type of myeloma in the body. The light chains are called kappa and lambda, and the heavy chains are IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM. IgG kappa, IgA kappa and IgG lambda are antibodies that correspond to different classifications of myeloma.

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