According to recent statistics, Blacks are twice as likely to develop multiple myeloma as other ethnicities. To make matters worse, they also have a higher mortality rate when it comes to this form of cancer. The fact that these numbers persist despite the advances that have been made in treating this disease has been of great concern to doctors and researchers alike. It’s because of this concern that they have set out to determine what might be causing this disparity and more importantly, what can be done about it.
What’s Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that affects the plasma cells in your body. Typically, these cells are found in bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system as they are responsible for producing certain proteins.
When plasma cells are affected by cancer, however, they reproduce uncontrollably and produce a different protein.
This abnormal protein is known as monoclonal immunoglobulin and its presence is often used as a reason to dig deeper for the presence of cancerous cells.
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Why Are African Americans At Greater Risk?
The preliminary studies strongly suggest that genetics play a huge factor in why African Americans are at a higher risk for developing multiple myeloma.
When studying blood and bone marrow samples taken from Black people, researchers discovered that a large number of those who were being studied had the abnormal protein, monoclonal immunoglobulin.
This condition, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), is mostly benign in other ethnicities but is highly likely to become multiple myeloma in African Americans.
Researchers are proposing that this development may be linked to the fact that 80% of the African Americans who were studied have specific cytogenic markers that have been found in those who have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. One of these markers is the