Raising Awareness of Myeloma


Public Health Wales is helping raise awareness of myeloma as part of the national awareness week (21-28 June).

Recent analysis of Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit data shows that the survival rate for this second most common cancer of the blood is increasing rapidly in Wales, partly due to improved treatment.

Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells within the bone marrow. Any place in the body where bone marrow is normally active can be affected (eg spine, rib cage, long bones of the arms and legs).

Symptoms and medical features of myeloma are very variable, and can come and go. Some of the more common ones are bone disease leading to pain and high blood calcium levels. It can cause anaemia, and fatigue or tiredness can be a problem, as well as repeated infections.

We do not yet know all the risk factors, but it is more common in men and you can be at higher risk of developing it if there is a family history of myeloma. Past exposure to radiation is also a risk factor as are some causes of lowered immunity. But we need to understand more about the condition.

Dr Dyfed Wyn Huws, Director of the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, said “Although the survival rate for myeloma has increased rapidly in recent years it still has a fairly low survival rate compared to other types of cancer. We are using Myeloma Awareness Week to help raise awareness about this condition that we still need to know more about.”

For more information go to www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/