About 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with multiple myleoma (MM) each year, and more than 10,000 die of MM in the United States annually. The etiology of MM remains unknown, although genetic and environmental factors have been implicated. Patients (n = 68) from the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and their family members with MM or a related malignancy were interviewed for environmental factors associated with MM and for family history data to complete pedigrees. In collaboration with Dr Henry Lynch at Creighton University, pedigrees of at least 3 generations were analyzed. Eighteen families (27%) have a putative autosomal dominant mode of genetic transmission of MM. Furthermore, the pedigrees indicate that pancreatic cancer, malignant melanoma, breast cancer, and lymphoma may be part of a myeloma syndrome. Environmental factors associated with MM present in this patient population were being born and raised in a rural area, raising cattle or cotton, and exposure to pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides. This work will be part of the efforts to create an international consortium to study familial MM. Research in the area of molecular epidemiology is needed to discover the genetic and environmental determinants of this disease.
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