1. Myeloma is a cancer of the blood, along with Leukemia and Lymphoma, and it is the second most common type after non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
2. American Cancer Society estimates 20,580 cases were diagnosed in 2009. It represents 1% of all cancers.
3. It develops in the bone marrow, or soft spongy center, of most bones, and is more commonly found in spine, pelvis, ribs, shoulders, hips, causing punch outs or holes, called lesions.
4. Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies to fight infection.
5. It is more common in men than women.
6. It affects about twice as many African Americans as Caucasians.
7. 96% of the cases are diagnosed in people older than 45.
8. It attacks and destroys bone, often going undetected until one has a fracture.
9. It is not curable, but it is treatable.
10. To date, no cause has been identified. However, certain professions have a higher risk factor. Exposure to pesticides, nuclear radiation, and petrochemicals are considered to be important trigger factors.
Be smart and pay attention to your body. If you have persistent bone pain, you are very prone to infections such as pneumonia or shingles, you are anemic or extremely fatigued, and especially if you meet any of the risk factors, try to get to the bottom of it! Other than low back pain, Ernie had no other symptoms. Three sets of x-rays with one chiropractor and two different orthopedic doctors did not pick it up. It wasn't until an MRI was done, that abnormal cells were detected. By then, the myeloma cells had been multiplying out of control possibly for 9-12 months, forming a tumor that pretty much took over his sacrum.