Plasmacytoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment


A plasmacytoma refers to a type of rare cancer that starts in the plasma cells of the blood. The plasma cells are a type of white blood cells, responsible for attacking and destroying organisms that cause infections. When the plasma cells turn to be abnormal in the bony skeleton or the soft tissues, plasmacytomas occur.

As a rare disorder, plasmacytomas are usually malignant and most commonly seen in the spine. Mainly, this type of cancer can be divided into two main groups: solitary plasmacytoma and extramedullary plasmacytoma.

Solitary plasmacytomas are similar to multiple myeloma. Usually, people with solitary plasmacytomas have a tumor composed of plasma cells in a specific area of their body, especially in bones. 70% of patients with solitary plasmacytomas develop multiple myeloma in the end that requires further treatment.

Extramedullary plasmacytomas happen when a plasmacytoma develops in the lungs, throat or other organs. Most people with extramedullary plasmacytomas can be cured after the treatment of radiation therapy.

Overall, plasmacytomas are more commonly seen in African Americans than Asians. Among all plasmacytoma cases, solitary bone plasmacytomas account for about 5%. On an annual basis, about 1,000 new cases of solitary plasmacytoma are reported. Moreover, 50% to 70% of solitary plasmacytomas may develop multiple myeloma in around 10 years.

Generally speaking, elderly people are at a higher risk of developing the condition. According to statistics, the median age of patients with plasmacytomas is 55. In often cases, the disease is rarely seen in people who are less than 30. Also, males are more likely to develop the condition than females.


Right now, the exact causes of plasmacytomas are still unknown. However, according to current studies, genetic factors may play a role in developing the condition.

Also, radiation exposure and chemical exposure may also increase the risk of getting plasmacytomas. People who are in the fourth to sixth decades of life are most likely to have the disease.


Symptoms of plasmacytomas may vary from every individual to individual. Some of the common symptoms of the condition are as follows:

  • Dull, aching pain
  • Weakness
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Pain that radiates in the arms and legs
  • Numbness
  • Clumsiness in the arms and legs
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Running nose
  • Nose bleeding

If you have the above-mentioned symptoms, you should go to the doctor and get a diagnosis so as to confirm whether you have plasmacytomas or not and which type plasmacytomas you are having. Early and accurate diagnosis is vital to later treatment.


To confirm a diagnosis, the doctor may order several imaging tests and blood tests.

  • X-rays test

Using invisible beams of electromagnetic energy, this test can provide overall bone anatomy for the doctor. With the result, the doctor can identify specific bony abnormalities.

  • CT scans

This procedure uses X-rays and a computer to produce detailed images of the body. This imaging test can provide more detailed information than the X-rays test and allow the doctor to better visualize the situation.

  • MRI scans

This test can produce detailed images of organs and structure inside the body. The result can be helpful for the doctor to make an exact diagnosis.

  • Blood tests

In detecting plasmacytomas, a specific blood test called serum protein electrophoresis is often done. In this blood test, the doctor will measure specific proteins such as Albumin, Alpha-1, Alpha-2, Beta and Gamma to see if there is any abnormality.

Based on the test results, the doctor will make a diagnosis accordingly and tailors the treatment plan for each and every patient.


Normally, people with plasmacytomas are treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. The treatment method can either be used alone or in combination.

  • Radiation therapy

In treating plasmacytomas, radiation therapy is often recommended because people who receive therapy often have a great prognosis. The radiation can be helpful to shrink the tumor.

  • Chemotherapy

This therapy is often used after radiation therapy. The aim of this therapy is also to shrink the tumor gradually.

  • Surgery

In cases that there’s compression on the spinal cord or nerve roots, it is necessary for the patient with plasmacytomas to have surgery. A decompression surgery usually can lift the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves effectively. Also, if the spinal column appears to be unstable, a spinal fusion procedure may also be done in order to restore the spinal stability.

Above all, the doctor will choose the best treatment for patients with plasmacytomas in line with the reality. If you have the above-mentioned symptoms, you’d better hurry to the hospital, get a diagnosis, and receive proper treatment.

Keywords: plasmacytoma; solitary plasmacytoma; extramedullary plasmacytoma.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.