Is Amyloidosis a Myeloma?

Is Amyloidosis a Myeloma?

Amyloidosis and myeloma are both complex and serious conditions, but they are distinct diseases with different characteristics, causes, and treatments. Understanding the differences between these two conditions is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Understanding Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a group of diseases characterized by the abnormal deposition of amyloid proteins in various tissues and organs. These amyloid proteins can accumulate in different parts of the body, leading to organ dysfunction and various symptoms.

Types of Amyloidosis

There are several types of amyloidosis, each caused by different proteins:

  1. AL (Primary) Amyloidosis: The most common type, often associated with plasma cell disorders like multiple myeloma. It occurs when abnormal plasma cells produce excessive light chains, which form amyloid deposits.
  2. AA (Secondary) Amyloidosis: Linked to chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or chronic infections. The protein involved is serum amyloid A.
  3. Hereditary (Familial) Amyloidosis: Caused by mutations in certain genes, leading to the production of abnormal amyloid proteins.
  4. Wild-type (Senile) Amyloidosis: Occurs in older adults and involves the deposition of normal transthyretin protein in the heart and other tissues.

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

Symptoms of amyloidosis vary depending on the organs affected but may include:

  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Swelling of the legs and ankles.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Enlarged tongue.
  • Skin changes, such as easy bruising or purplish patches around the eyes.

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What is the Main Cause of Myeloma?

Understanding Myeloma

Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a type of cancer that originates in plasma cells within the bone marrow. These cancerous plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies that can cause damage to various organs and weaken the bones.

Causes of Myeloma

The exact cause of myeloma is not fully understood, but several factors are known to increase the risk:

  • Genetic mutations and abnormalities.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals and radiation.
  • Chronic immune system stimulation.
  • Age, with most cases occurring in individuals over 60.
  • Ethnicity, with higher incidence rates among African Americans.
  • Family history of myeloma or related conditions.

Symptoms of Myeloma

Common symptoms of myeloma include:

  • Bone pain, especially in the back or ribs.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Anemia and fatigue.
  • High levels of calcium in the blood, lead to nausea, vomiting, and confusion.
  • Kidney dysfunction.

Is Amyloidosis a Myeloma?

Relationship Between Amyloidosis and Myeloma

While amyloidosis and myeloma are distinct diseases, there is a significant overlap, particularly with AL (primary) amyloidosis. In AL amyloidosis, the amyloid deposits are formed from the light chains produced by abnormal plasma cells, similar to those found in multiple myeloma. Therefore, AL amyloidosis can occur as a complication of myeloma, or it can present independently with a similar underlying mechanism.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing these conditions involves various tests and procedures, including blood tests, urine tests, bone marrow biopsy, and imaging studies. Specialized tests to identify amyloid deposits, such as fat pad biopsy or cardiac imaging, may also be required.

Treatment Approaches:

  • Amyloidosis: Treatment focuses on reducing the production of amyloid proteins and managing organ damage. This may involve chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and supportive care for affected organs.
  • Myeloma: Treatment aims to control the proliferation of cancerous plasma cells. Options include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplant, and supportive care for symptoms and complications.


Amyloidosis and myeloma are distinct yet interrelated conditions. While amyloidosis involves the abnormal deposition of amyloid proteins in various tissues, myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. AL amyloidosis, a type of amyloidosis, can occur in association with myeloma due to the similar origin of the abnormal proteins. Understanding the differences and connections between these diseases is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

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