Bone marrow neoplastic

Bone marrow - plasma cell and lymphoid neoplasms

Plasma cell neoplasms

POEMS syndrome (osteosclerotic myeloma)

Last author update: 1 December 2017
Last staff update: 15 June 2023 (update in progress)

Copyright: 2002-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: POEMS syndrome[TIAB] osteosclerotic myeloma[TIAB]

Genevieve M. Crane, M.D., Ph.D.
Page views in 2022: 1,469
Page views in 2023 to date: 1,485
Cite this page: Crane G. POEMS syndrome (osteosclerotic myeloma). website. Accessed September 21st, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Paraneoplastic syndrome due to an underlying plasma cell neoplasm
  • POEMS = polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, M protein spike and skin changes
  • But the acronym does not include several of the common clinical manifestations
Essential features
  • Major criteria for diagnosis are:
    • Polyradiculopathy
    • Clonal plasma cell disorder
    • Sclerotic bone lesions
    • Elevated vascular endothelial growth factor
    • Castleman disease (also known as angiofollicular hyperplasia, 11 - 30% of cases, most commonly multicentric Castleman disease)
  • POEMS acronym coined in 1980 by Bardwick et al. (Medicine (Baltimore) 1980;59:311)
  • Other names: osteosclerotic myeloma, Takatsuki syndrome, Crow-Fukase syndrome
ICD coding
  • ICD-10: D47.7 - other neoplasms of uncertain behavior of lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissue
  • See also WHO coding
  • Prevalence of approximately 0.3 per 100,000 reported in Japan but occurs worldwide
  • VEGF levels are high and correlate with disease activity but may not drive the process
  • IL12 also correlates with disease activity; IL6 produced by plasma cells may play a role
Clinical features
  • In addition to essential features above, other clinical features include:
    • Organomegaly
    • Endocrinopathy
    • Characteristic skin changes
    • Papilledema
    • Extravascular volume overload / anasarca
    • Thrombocytosis, with propensity for thrombosis
    • Abnormal pulmonary function tests, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension
    • Diarrhea, calciphylaxis (rare)
    • Generally no bone pain
  • Diagnosis is made by fulfilling at least 3 major criteria, 2 of which must include polyradiculoneuropathy and a clonal plasma cell disorder, along with at least 1 minor criterion (Am J Hematol 2017;92:814)
  • Mandatory criteria (must have both): polyneuropathy and monoclonal plasma cell disorder
  • Other major criteria (at least 1 present): Castleman disease, sclerotic bone lesions, increased VEGF levels
  • Minor criteria (at least 1 present):
    • Organomegaly
    • Extravascular volume overload (edema, pleural effusion, ascites),
    • Endocrinopathy (adrenal, thyroid, pituitary, gonadal, parathyroid, pancreatic); hypogonadism most common
    • Skin changes (hyperpigmentation, hypertrichosis, glomeruloid angiomata, plethora, acrocyanosis, white nails, sclerodermoid changes, clubbing)
    • Papilledema
    • Thrombocytosis / polycythemia

  • Monoclonal light chain (especially lambda)
  • VEGF levels are high
  • Thrombocytosis or erythrocytosis, absence of cytopenias
Radiology description
  • Bone lesions
  • Signs of volume overload (e.g. pleural effusion, ascites)
Prognostic factors
  • Risk associated with the extent of the plasma cell disorder
  • Bone marrow plasmacytosis increases risk of cerebrovascular event
  • Number of clinical criteria met is not prognostic
  • Generally better overall survival than myeloma, older data shows median survival of 14 years
Case reports
  • If no bone marrow involvement by plasma cell clone, local radiation therapy may be adequate (e.g. sclerotic plasmacytoma)
  • If disseminated disease or progression following local radiation, systemic therapy advised
  • Corticosterioids as a temporizing measure
  • Alkylating agents a mainstay, including high dose with stem cell transplant
  • Thalidomide, bortezomib can be considered but may worsen peripheral neuropathy
  • Prompt treatment recommended
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Classic findings of POEMS syndrome

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Bone marrow biopsy may show megakaryocyte hyperplasia and clustering (no JAK2 mutation)
  • Lymphoid aggregates (50% of cases) with clonal plasma cell rimming
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Genevieve M. Crane, M.D., Ph.D.

A pyogenic granuloma arising in a patient with POEMS syndrome

Biopsy of sclerotic bone lesions in a patient with POEMS syndrome

Cytology images

Contributed by Sarah Elsoukkary, M.D.

Bone marrow clot section

Bone marrow aspirate smear


CD138 / Ki67

CD56+ clone


IHC for kappa and lambda of the bone marrow clot

Positive stains
  • Lambda clones predominate (95% of cases)
  • Other features are as for clonal plasma cell populations
Electron microscopy description
  • No features of macrophage associated demyelination in contrast to chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculopathy
Molecular / cytogenetics description
  • Tend to have restricted immunoglobulin variable chain usage (IGLV1)
  • Translocations and deletion of chromosome 13 have been described
Differential diagnosis
Board review style question #1
Which 2 of the following clinical features are more commonly associated with POEMS syndrome than multiple myeloma?

  1. Bone pain
  2. Demonstration of clonal plasma cells
  3. Neuropathy
  4. Pleural effusion
  5. Renal failure
Board review style answer #1
C and D. Neuropathy and pleural effusion; volume overload and neuropathy are characteristic features of POEMS syndrome. POEMS syndrome is less frequently associated with bone pain and renal failure as compared to multiple myeloma. Both require demonstration of clonal plasma cells.

Comment Here

Reference: POEMS syndrome (osteosclerotic myeloma)
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02