Multiple myeloma is referred to as just myeloma and the two terminologies are talking of the same disease. It is relatively uncommon cancer certainly when you compare it to more common cancers such as lung, breast, or colon cancer. however, it is not that uncommon and approximately twenty-thousand new patients are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the United States every year.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cell which is a type of white cell that normally resides in the bone marrow and its normal job is to make a protein called immunoglobulin which helps the body fight infections. In myeloma, there are too many plasma cells which leads to a variety of problems. Patients with myeloma can present with the number of different symptoms and commonly they present with
What are the indicators of Multiple myeloma?
Patients with myeloma can present with the number of different symptoms and commonly they present with Excessive thirst, pain in the spine, weakness or numbness in your legs, pain in the chest, nausea, loss of weight, hard bowel movements, frequent infections, poor appetite, exhaustiveness, and mental fogginess or unclear about the situation. Many patients however do not have any symptoms at all and they are diagnosed because the blood of normality is detected when they have a physical routine.
When to consult a physician
Consult your doctor or a physician immediately if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above. Your doctor should evaluate you for other possible causes of your symptoms before treating the actual condition. Together, you and your doctor can determine the best way to manage your symptoms.
What are the causes of multiple myeloma?
The main cause of myeloma is still unknown to the doctors or physicians. Researchers suspect that the abnormal plasma cell present in the bone marrow of a human can cause this condition. These abnormal cells occupy most of the bones in the human body. As a result, it increases its production.
But the good news here is these abnormal cells also die at one stage. Just like normal cells, cancer cells also don’t mature and die eventually. Before that, it will reduce the production of white blood cells that attacks the cancer cells and makes the person feel extreme tiredness and kill the cells’ ability to fight against infections.
Just like healthy plasma cells, Myeloma cells also produce antibodies to kill the infections but it is not in human body nature to use those cells to make antibodies and fight infections. If the ongoing of myeloma cells left untreated, it can cause a variety of health conditions like kidney damage and bone damage.
What are the risk factors of multiple myeloma?
Several risk factors developing the condition of multiple myeloma. The risk factors of this condition include
- Getting older
- Black race
- Family history of multiple myeloma
- Personal history of MGUS
Let’s discuss the above risk factors in detail
Multiple myeloma is mostly affecting the people who are above the age of sixty so the risk of getting this condition is high as people grow older.
Women are far less at risk of getting diagnosed with multiple myeloma when compared with men.
Multiple myeloma is far more common in black people when compared with white people.
Family history of multiple myeloma
If any member of your family has diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the past, then you are more likely to develop this disease.
Personal history of MGUS
The full form of MGUS is monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. In the United States, one percent of the people with MGUS conditions are getting diagnosed with multiple myeloma every year.
What are the complications of multiple myeloma?
People with multiple myeloma may experience complications but they are treatable. Frequent infections, pain in the bones, broken bones, damage to the kidney, and a low red blood cell count are considered as the complications associated with multiple myeloma.
How do physicians diagnose multiple myeloma?
If your healthcare provider suspects that you have multiple myeloma, then he or she may ask a piece of detailed information about the symptoms you are experiencing in the past few days. They will run some tests to confirm the diagnosis of this disease. These tests and procedures include
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Examination of your bone marrow
- Imaging tests
- Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
Let’s discuss the above diagnostic tests in detail:
Myeloma cells produce proteins in the human body. It includes
- M proteins
Your physician may recommend a blood test to know whether the above abnormal proteins present in your body or not. This test can also provide necessary information to your doctor regarding the
- Kidney function
- Blood cell counts
- Calcium levels
- Uric acid levels
Your doctor may recommend a urine test to your urine will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and it can reveal the M proteins in your body produced by myeloma cells.
Examination of your bone marrow
Your physician will take out the sample of bone marrow and sent it to the laboratory for testing. This procedure involves inserting a long needle into your bone through veins. The main objective of analyzing your sample is to find out whether the myeloma cells are present in your body or not.
A physician may recommend imaging tests to the people who are showing the symptoms of multiple myeloma. These tests include X-ray, Magnetic Resonance imagining, Computed tomography, and positron emission tomography scan. Imaging tests are used to detect the bone problems that come with multiple myeloma.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
This test may reveal necessary information about the gene defects due to the fast growth of myeloma cells in the human body.
What are the treatment options available for multiple myeloma?
There are treatments for this which can include lifestyle alternations, non-prescription options as well as prescription medications. The following are the treatment options to treat myeloma.
- Targeted therapy
- Biological therapy
- Bone marrow transplant
- Radiation therapy
- Lifestyle changes
Let’s discuss the above treatment options in detail:
The main objective of this therapy is to interfere with the myeloma cells that are causing abnormal proteins in the human body. The following are the drugs used in this therapy.
- Bortezomib (Velcade)
- Carfilzomib (Kyprolis)
- Ixazomib (Ninlaro)
The above drugs can be available in an injection or pill form.
Biological therapy focuses on improving your body’s immune system to fight off against myeloma cells. Examples of biological therapy drugs include
- Thalidomide (Thalomid)
- Lenalidomide (Revlimid)
- Pomalidomide (Pomalyst)
The above drugs used to destroy the cancer cells by increasing the power of the immune system.
Chemotherapy drugs can put an end to the growth of cancer cells produced by the myeloma. Examples of chemotherapy drugs include doxorubicin, Abraxane, epirubicin, and paraplatin. Possible side effects of chemotherapy drugs include loss of hair, high temperature of the body, exhaustiveness, vomiting, and mouth sores.
The above side effects can occur at any time during medication use. It is advised to consult a physician when you are experiencing the side effects of this therapy. Your physician may change the dosage of the medication or switch you to another one.
Your physician may recommend corticosteroids to attack myeloma cells and to control the inflammation in the body. The examples of corticosteroids drugs include
Bone marrow transplant
Stem cell transplant is the other name of a bone marrow transplant. Your physician may recommend this to remove the diseased bone marrow and replace it with the healthy bone marrow. You are advised to take chemotherapy drugs to kill the diseased bone marrow before the procedure.
The main objective of this therapy is to stop the growth of myeloma cells. This procedure involves using x-rays and protons to destroy the myeloma cells.
A well-balanced diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the chances of experiencing these adverse conditions associated with this disease. Bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol may increase the severity of symptoms.
There is no cure for this condition and the main objective of any type of treatment is to ease the symptoms of the disease. If multiple myeloma is a big problem for you, then talk with your physician about some of the available treatment options. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.