Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
There is no way to know for sure if you're going to get multiple myeloma. There is also no known way to prevent it. Certain factors increase your likelihood of developing this type of cancer.
Doctors do not know what causes multiple myeloma. The risk factors that have been found only slightly raise your chance of getting this type of cancer. However, it’s important to tell your doctor if you are having symptoms of multiple myeloma and any of the following risk factors.
Age over 65: Growing older increases the chance of developing multiple myeloma. Most people with myeloma are diagnosed after age 65. People younger than 35 are rarely affected with the disease.
Men: Men are slightly more likely to develop multiple myeloma than women.
African-Americans: The risk of multiple myeloma is highest among African-Americans and lowest among Asian-Americans. The reason for the difference between racial groups is not known.
Family history: You are more likely to get multiple myeloma if a parent or a sibling has it. Researchers are studying families in which more than one person has multiple myeloma. However, such families are extremely rare.
Work with chemicals: Exposure to petroleum products may raise your risk of getting multiple myeloma. If you use industrial chemicals at work, be sure to follow the guidelines for working with them safely.
Exposure to high levels of radiation: People who have been exposed to high levels of radiation, such as the survivors of the atom bomb, may have a higher risk for multiple myeloma. But while researchers have suggested that exposure to radioactivity may be a risk factor, it actually accounts for a very small number of cases.
History of plasma cell disease: Certain plasma cell diseases such as solitary plasmacytoma and MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) can develop into multiple myeloma. A plasmacytoma is a collection of abnormal plasma cells found in one location instead of throughout the bone marrow, soft tissue or bone. People who have MGUS have the same abnormal proteins, called M-proteins, as people with myeloma, except there is no cancer.
Being overweight or obese: Being overweight or obese may increase your risk for developing multiple myeloma.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.