The history of multiple myeloma

As I was looking through the new edition of “Blood” yesterday, I came across an interesting historical overview of multiple myeloma by Dr. Robert Kyle (with whom I have spoken by phone and been in touch with occasionally since 2005: an extremely nice, kind, reassuring doctor) and Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
The full text is available online:, so I won’t go into any detail. I would like to mention, though, that I am very glad that myeloma is no longer being treated with leeches…
Just a few words. The “first well-documented case” of myeloma dates to 1844: a woman, 39 years old. The best known case is that of a 45-year-old man (again in 1844) who was given quinine and steel (?). And a sample of his urine was sent to….Dr. Henry Bence Jones. Ring any bells?

Interesting read. However, I hope it won’t take another 50 years for this history of multiple myeloma to have a chapter on curcumin and other natural, non toxic treatments. Oh, and while we are at it, how about a chapter on the non toxic cures: cyclopamine or DMAPT, the myeloma stem cell terminators?

An impossible dream? Perhaps…

Perhaps not.


  1. So, the history of myeloma begins with a young woman and a (relatively!) young man: 39 and 45 years old, respectively. If you read documents on MM, nowadays, you’ll read that patients are mostly men, above 60 years of age.
    It’s curious, isn’t it?


  2. This article answered a question for me. My grandfather fell ill in the late 1920s or very early 30’s. The doctor took x-rays and said grandfather’s bones looked like Swiss cheese. The doctor diagnosed TB of the bones and sent grandfather home to die, which he did – in January of 1932. I have no doubt that grandfather did have TB. His mother-in-law who had it died in his home. However, he also had a wife and 5 children, none of whom ever developed active TB from their exposure. I have wondered whether multiple myeloma might have weakened his immune system so that he quickly succumbed to the infection.

    So my question was whether the state of the art of electrophoresis was such that it could have been used to obtain a diagnosis of multiple myeloma at that time. Now I think it very unlikely. This history says the electrophoretic “spike” of myeloma was not recognized until 1939. Grandfather could have had MM, which set him up for the TB infection.

    I have wondered about that ever since my own diagnosis with MGUS.

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