Although several things appear capable of causing or triggering myeloma, all of the details are not known.
Things associated with an increased risk of myeloma and related diseases are toxic chemicals (for example, agricultural chemicals and Agent Orange used in Vietnam, radiation (including atomic radiation), and several viruses including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis viruses, human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8), and others. There is not a strong family tendency for myeloma; a few families do, however, have an increased predisposition to the disease.
Myeloma occurs in adults.
The average age of onset of myeloma is in one's early 60's. Only 5-10% of patients are under the age of 40 years. It occurs more commonly in men and in some racial groups, such as African-Americans.
There will be an estimated 19,900 new cases of myeloma in the U.S. in 2007.
The incidence ranges from ~0.5 -1/100,000 among Asians to as high as ~10-12/100,000 among African-American men. At any one time there are over 100,000 myeloma patients undergoing treatment for their disease in the U.S.
Click here to go to the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemilogy and End Results (SEER) Program site for more statististics. Note: The NCI allows a standard delay of 22 months between the end of the diagnosis year and the time the cancers are first reported to the NCI in November. The data are released to the public in the spring of the following year. For example, cases diagnosed in 2004 were first reported to the NCI in November 2006 and released to the public in April 2007.