Medical Q&As

Plasmacytoma - what is it?

My mother in law has recently been diagnosed with plasmacytoma. Can you please give me any information on it?

A plasmacytoma is a tumour consisting of plasma cells. Plasma cells are a form of white blood cell and are involved in the production of antibodies. They are an important element in the body’s immune system and help to defend against infection and disease. When plasma cells increase massively in number they are referred to as myeloma cells which tend to accumulate in the bone marrow. When these cells accumulate in different bones the condition is referred to as multiple myeloma whereas a plasmacytoma refers to a situation where the myeloma cells have accumulated in a solitary mass in a particular bone. It is important to appreciate that although the cells accumulate in bone their origin is in the immune system. This accumulation of plasma cells can weaken bone resulting in bone pain and sometimes can result in fractures. The bone damage can result in the release of excessive amounts of calcium into the blood, which is called hypercalcaemia. This can give rise to symptoms of muscle weakness, fatigue, restlessness, nausea, loss of appetite and confusion. Anaemia and kidney complications can also occur. People with a plasmacytoma and those with multiple myeloma have impaired resistance against infection. They also exhibit too much of a particular type of antibody that is technically referred to as monoclonal antibody. The condition can be diagnosed on the basis of X-ray studies, blood tests and bone marrow aspiration.