Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Plasma cells help your body fight infection by producing proteins called antibodies. In multiple myeloma, plasma cells grow out of control in the bone marrow and form tumors in the areas of solid bone.

The growth of these bone tumors makes it harder for the bone marrow to make healthy blood cells and platelets. |

Multiple myeloma mainly affects older adults. Past treatment with radiation therapy raises your risk for this type of cancer.


Multiple myeloma causes anemia, which makes a person more likely to get infections and have abnormal bleeding.

As the cancer cells grow in the bone marrow, bone or back pain, most often in the ribs or back.

If the bones in the spine are affected, it can put pressure on the nerves, resulting in numbness or weakness of the arms or legs.

Other symptoms include:

  • Bleeding problems
  • Fatigue due to anemia
  • Fevers without any other cause
  • Shortness of breath due to anemia
  • Unexplained broken bones


Blood tests can help diagnose this disease. They may include:

  • Blood tests to check calcium level, total protein level, and kidney function
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood and urine tests to check to identify proteins, or antibodies (immunofixation)
  • Blood tests to quickly and accurately measure the specific level of certain proteins called immunoglobulins (nephelometry)

This list is not all-inclusive.

Bone x-rays may show fractures or hollowed out areas of bone. If your doctor suspects this type of cancer, a bone marrow biopsy will be performed.

Bone density testing may show bone loss.


What now? It's the most natural question to ask when you receive a cancer diagnosis. And it’s a question that’s hard to answer when dealing with the emotions and thoughts that inevitably overwhelm you after you’re given your test results. We understand this is a difficult time for you and your family. That’s why we offer the following treatment programs to all of our oncology patients in the CHI Health system.

Stem Cell Transplant Program

Peripheral stem cell transplant is a procedure where diseased bone marrow is destroyed and healthy new stem cells are re-infused back into the body through a vein. The healthy stem cells find their way to the destroyed bone marrow, engraft, and begin producing normal blood cells. Stem cells are found in bone marrow and peripheral blood.

Diseases Treated by Autologous Stem Cell Transplant
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Lymphoma, Hodgkin Lymphoma, Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
Description/Definition of Stem Cell Transplant
  • Allogeneic – Removal, storage and re-infusion of donor stem cells based on tissue typing, may not be a relative
  • Syngeneic – Removal, storage, and re-infusion of stem cells from an identical twin
  • Autologous – Removal, storage, and re-infusion of one’s own healthy stem cells

Cancer Medical Team

Your medical team consists of a multi-disciplinary team of highly skilled professionals who care for every patient of the CHI Health Cancer Center. Using state-of-the-art technology and treatment regimens, our doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals treat more cancer patients than any other health care provider in the Nebraska.

Nurse Navigator Program

A Nurse Navigator is an oncology-certified nurse who is available to guide you and your family through the entire process of diagnosis and treatment at CHI Health. The Nurse Navigator is a single point of contact who will be there with you every step of the way.

Support Staff

The CHI Health Cancer Support Team is comprised of a group of healthcare professionals who work together in a variety of ways to help the patient and family cope with cancer. Individual team members include Cancer Support Services Specialists, Medical Social Workers, Cancer Rehabilitation Specialist, Pastoral Services, Dietitians, Oncology Nurse Navigators, Hospice & Home Care Services, Inpatient Nursing Services, Radiation Oncology, and Volunteer Services.

Technologies & Therapies

  • TomoTherapy
    CHI Health is the first in the Omaha area to offer the TomoTherapy® Hi·Art® (Highly Integrated Adaptive Radiotherapy) System. This all-in-one solution allows doctors to check the location of tumors before each treatment, then deliver painless, precise radiation therapy resulting in unmatched accuracy for cancer patients, especially those with breast, lung and prostate tumors.

  • Varian Trilogy
    The Varian Trilogy with RapidArc® radiotherapy technology is a revolutionary breakthrough in cancer treatment that delivers powerful tumor-destroying radiation with remarkable precision. 

  • Brachytherapy
    Although brachytherapy is a very popular and proven treatment for cancer, using brachytherapy instead of external beam radiation for breast cancer is a recent idea. Brachytherapy has the advantages of being a shorter treatment, and irradiating less of the body. CHI Health has strict eligibility guidelines for patients who are candidates for partial breast irradiation.

Clinical Trials

We believe our patients should have access to the most advanced medicines or treatments available. Studies are available for cancer control, cancer prevention and cancer treatment. No patient is obligated to participate in clinical trials and may withdraw at any time. However, those who do participate gain access to new medicines and other benefits, such as low or no-cost drugs and treatments.

Image Recovery Center

While cancer treatment outcomes are improving, hair loss, weight changes and skin changes leave you feeling like a shadow of your former self. At CHI Health, we won’t let you face those challenges alone. The Image Recovery Center is an appearance-enhancement program designed to help you copy with some of the physical side effects of cancer treatment. 

Complementary Therapy

The purpose of integrative movement therapy is to "complement" conventional medicine by stimulating the body’s natural healing power. Healing the body, mind and spirit, CHI Health offers massage therapy, Yoga, T’ai Chi meditation and other therapeutic exercises during cancer treatment.

Second Opinion Program

After you receive a cancer diagnosis, you will likely have many questions. It’s helpful to obtain as much information as possible to make informed decisions about your cancer management and treatment in order to feel confident about your care. Getting a second opinion from the CHI Health Cancer Center can help with these concerns.

Cancer Inpatient Services

For more acute, palliative or end of life phases of cancer care, CHI Health offers five locations throughout Omaha for inpatient cancer care services.

The Oasis

For patients who need a different type of care, the CHI Health Cancer Center has opened an oncology unit with 20 dedicated beds at Lakeside Hospital. The private patient rooms form the perimeter of an unexpected retreat for patients and families.

Cancer Rehabilitation

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Massage
  • Aquatic Therapy
  • Stress Management
  • Lymphedeman Prevention and Treatment


Support Groups

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  • Cancer Related Fatigue Support Group
  • Cancer Survivorship Program
  • Just for Kids - Cancer Support Group
  • Look Good, Feel Better
  • Lunch & Learn Cancer Support Group
  • Surviving Bereavement
  • Conversations for the Cure
Learn more about our support groups.