Multiple Myeloma: Risk factors

  • Age MM is most common in patients over 60 with only 2 percent of cases occurring in those under 40. The average age for diagnosis is 70.
  • Race MM is twice as prevalent in African Americans.
  • Family history If a sibling or parent has had MM, an individual’s chance of being diagnosed with this disease is four times higher than average. However, most MM patients have no affected relatives.
  • Previous conditions Patients diagnosed with a solitary plasmacytoma have a higher risk of developing MM.
  • Gender MM is slightly more common in men.
  • Radiation exposure High levels of radiation such as those found at malfunctioning nuclear power plants may increase a patient’s risk of developing MM.
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS). Patients with a monoclonal (M) protein in their blood but no other evidence of myeloma are diagnosed with MGUS. These patients have a slightly increased chance (1 percent per year) of developing MM and need a lifelong follow up.