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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Myeloma Bone Disease

The most common and debilitating feature of myeloma is the effect it has on bones throughout the body.

In fact, more than 70% of patients experience bone pain and have evidence of myeloma bone disease at the time of diagnosis – a condition shared by almost all patients at some point during the course of their myeloma.

But... isn't myeloma a blood cancer?
Yes. Even though it affects the bones, myeloma is considered a blood cancer because it develops in the blood's plasma cells, which are produced in the bone marrow.

How myeloma affects bones

The abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) in the bone marrow affect the surrounding bone, causing soft spots to develop where the bone structure has been damaged.

These soft spots, that can extend from the inner bone marrow to the outer surface of the bone, appear on standard bone x-rays as "holes" – referred to as osteolytic lesions. These lesions weaken the bone, causing pain and increasing the risk of fractures.  

How bone destruction occurs in myeloma  

Throughout our lives, our bones are constantly being remodeled by two types of complementary cells known as osteoblasts and osteoclasts.

Osteoclasts break down old bone, while osteoblasts form new bone to replace it.

Under normal conditions, both types of cells keep the rate of bone formation and bone breakdown equal, so that bone mass remains the same.

In myeloma, the rapid growth of abnormal plasma cells interferes with the production of osteoblasts (the bone-forming cells). At the same time, there is an increase in substances that activate the osteoclasts (the cells that break down bone).

In other words, bone loss is increased while bone repair and growth are decreased. The net result: bone is destroyed faster than it can be replaced.

As if that weren't enough, the osteoclasts (the cells that break down bone) produce their own signals that stimulate the growth of myeloma cells.

This vicious cycle of dependency between the myeloma cells and bone marrow cells (like the osteoclasts) results in a net loss of bone and the development of the osteolytic lesions found on myeloma patients' x-rays. 

By better understanding these mechanisms, it may be possible some day to develop more effective treatments to interrupt, slow down, or stop the process that leads to bone disease and contributes to tumour cell growth and survival in myeloma. 

For more information, download the 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.
Download it now.