Multiple Myeloma in the Spotlight: 8 Facts About This Blood Cancer

Sheri Reed

bloodMultiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, is in the spotlight today after to the tragic loss of political trailblazer Geraldine Ferraro, who suffered from this disease for many years. Cancer is such a terrible heartbreaker.

However, in an effort to keep the interest going in this particular cancer -- and in hopes that more awareness will bring more support toward its cure -- we've rounded up eight facts about multiple myeloma and Geraldine Ferraro's work to fund research for the deadly disease, which took her life earlier today.

8 Facts About Multiple Myeloma Blood Cancer

  1. Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the United States, according to the Harvard Gazette.
  2. Symptoms include: bleeding problems, bone or back pain, most often in the ribs or back, fevers without any other cause, increased susceptibility to infection, symptoms of anemia (such as tiredness, shortness of breath, and fatigue), unexplained fractures, and weakness of the arms or legs, according to PubMed Health.
  3. Multiple myeloma begins in the bone marrow, crowds out normal cells, and attacks solid bone.
  4. There is no known cause of the disease, which can occur in people with no known risk factors and, often, no family history blood cancer.
  5. In 2010, more than 20,000 adults in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma and nearly 11,000 people are predicted to die from the disease, says the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF).
  6. Although Geraldine Ferraro far surpassed the dismal five-year survival rate with this blood cancer (she was diagnosed in 1998), the five-year relative survival rate is approximately 38 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers, says the MMRF.
  7. Geraldine Ferraro was a member of the MMRF Honorary Board of Directors.
  8. Also according to the MMRF:

In 2002, Ferraro passionately testified before Congress for the critical need for increased research funding, and a year later, a bill was signed authorizing $250 million for blood cancer research. Congress then appropriated $5 million to the Geraldine Ferraro Blood Cancer Education Program in 2003 and renewed funding in 2006, enabling the MMRF to provide high-quality educational programs to underserved populations.

Great work, Geraldine. May you rest in peace ...

Have you ever heard of this type of blood cancer before?


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