Update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Information regarding COVID-19 is in constant change, as is the situation regarding vaccination and prioritization for immune-compromised individuals.

If you have any COVID-19-related questions, we’ve created a specific COVID section on our website that can be accessed by clicking here or by selecting the “News & Events” tab from our homepage. In this section, you’ll find the latest news and information about the pandemic in Canada from trustworthy and reliable sources.

Any specific questions that you may have regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, delays between vaccine dosing, and prioritization within your province are best answered by your healthcare team. They’re the ones who know you and your particular situation and are therefore in a position to best address your unique concerns.

Created by, and entirely focused on, Canadians impacted by myeloma, Myeloma Canada is the only national charitable organization committed to providing you with the most up-to-date and reliable information on myeloma. Some of the ways we do this is through our monthly e-newsletter, “Myeloma Matters”, as well as through our social media platforms.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at contact@myeloma.ca or toll-free at 1-888-798-5771 with any questions regarding our programs and services.


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What is Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma, commonly referred to as myeloma, is a blood cancer that is associated with the abnormal behavior and uncontrolled growth of a type of white blood cell – the plasma cell. Plasma cells are made in the bone marrow – the spongy tissue found inside bones – and are an important component of the body’s immune system because they produce antibodies. In myeloma, abnormal plasma cells (also known as myeloma cells) interfere with the production of normal healthy blood cells in the bone marrow and overproduce inactive clones of abnormal antibodies that can negatively affect different parts of the body such as the bones and kidneys. The cause or causes of myeloma remain unknown.

Every day, 9 Canadians are diagnosed with myeloma, yet in spite of its growing prevalence, the disease remains relatively unknown. To date there is no cure for myeloma, however advancements in research and treatment are enabling those impacted by myeloma to live better and longer lives than ever before. More research leading to new therapies or new combinations of therapies are required to find a cure.

Good Cells Gone Bad

Cancer is a result of genetic material (DNA) in cells being damaged during their development. These damaged or abnormal cells do not function properly and begin to multiply uncontrollably.

In myeloma: 

  • Too many plasma cells are produced and they "crowd out" other types of cells (like red blood cells and platelets) that our body needs to be healthy
  • These abnormal plasma cells only produce one type of antibody, known as M-protein (paraprotein). Multiple myeloma is often diagnosed and monitored through the measurement of this paraprotein.   

Where "Multiple Myeloma" Gets its Name

Unlike most cancers, myeloma does not exist as a lump or a tumour. Instead, myeloma cells multiply in the bone marrow and interferes with the production of good, healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

As a result, myeloma affects several places in the body where bone marrow is normally active in adults (ie, the bones of the spine, skull, pelvis, rib cage, long bones in arms and legs and areas around the shoulders and hips) – which is why it's often referred to as multiple myeloma.

Most of the symptoms and complications associated with myeloma are caused by the build-up of abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow and the presence of M-protein (paraprotein) in the blood and/or urine.

The Relapsing-remitting Nature of Myeloma

Myeloma is what is known as a relapsing-remitting cancer. That means it alternates between periods of:

  • Symptoms and/or complications that need to be treated
  • Stable disease that do not require treatment (remission)

A relapse is when myeloma returns or becomes active again after a period of treatment.

Multiple Myeloma Patient Handbook

Designed to provide educational support to patients, caregivers, families and friends, this handbook gives accurate, reliable, and clear information on myeloma. Topics cover its causes and effects, how it is diagnosed and the treatment options available in Canada.