Figure 1 for About Myeloma Section
In healthy bone marrow (A), B-cells develop into antibody-producing plasma cells when foreign substances (antigens) enter the body. Normally, plasma cells make up less than 1% of the cells in the bone marrow. In multiple myeloma (B), genetic damage to a developing B cell transforms the normal plasma cell into a malignant multiple myeloma cell. The malignant cell multiplies, leaving less space for normal blood cells in the bone marrow, and produces large quantities of M protein.


X-rays of a long bone and skull showing bone lesions.


Myeloma cells in the bone marrow cause osteolytic lesions, which appear as “holes” on an x-ray. Weakened bones increase the likelihood of fracture, as shown in this x-ray of a forearm. DeVita Jr VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 5th ed. 1997:2350. Adapted with permission from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


What is a complete blood count (CBC)?

The complete blood count (CBC) is done to determine the levels of various types of blood cells, including red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets (Plt). In addition, a CBC also includes a hemoglobin value and a hematocrit.


Components of a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Normal Ranges for Results





Normal Ranges for Results*


Oxygen-carrying substance in red blood cells

A low level may indicate anemia

Women: 12 - 16 g/dL
Men: 13 - 18 g/dL


Percentage of red blood cells in the blood

A low level may indicate anemia

Women: 36 - 46%
Men: 37 - 49%

 Red blood cells

Bring oxygen from the lungs to the various tissues in the body and carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs

A low number may indicate anemia

Women: 4.1-5.1 x 1012/L
Men: 4.5-5.3 x 1012/L

White blood cells (including determination of percentages of the individual types of white blood cells)

Help fight infection and remove harmful substances from the body;

A low number indicates an increased risk of infection

Total 3.5 - 10.5 x 109/L
Neutrophils 1.7 - 7.0
Monocytes 0.3 - 0.9
Lymphocytes0.9 - 2.9
Basophils 0.0 - 0.3
Eosinophils 0.05 - 0.5


Help blood to clot

A low number indicates an increased risk of excessive bleeding

150 - 450 x 109/L

*Normal ranges may vary.