Multiple Myeloma

A plasma cell is a type of white blood cell that helps to fight infection by producing antibodies. However, in some cases, they produce more protein that is called immunoglobulin and this results in Multiple Myeloma. This is the type of cancer where the plasma cells affect the bones by dissolving them. In advanced stages, they even spill out of the bone marrow and move to other regions and cause a lot of complications. It is surprising to note that the exact cause of this condition is still not known. However, there are treatments available to slow down cancer even though it cannot be completely cured.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

- There may be no symptoms in the early stages and most of them show up only in the advanced stages of this disease. It is common to notice bone pain and this usually appears in the chest or the spine region.

- It can also cause nausea and people have less appetite with this condition. This can lead to less consumption of food which makes the patient prone to becoming anaemic at a later stage. In this way, one symptom can lead to other and create complications in the future.

- Along with this, most people complain about fatigue as the ability of the body to fight infections reduce by a huge margin. It becomes important to boost the immune system by providing suitable medication so that patients will have the strength to fight the disease.

- It also leads to excessive thirst and this weakens the bones in the long run. The calcium is removed from the bones in large quantities when you have this condition and this leads to weak bones. Along with this issue, the kidney also suffers as it has to process a lot of calcium in the blood.

- The chances of getting infections will be more and you will frequently get affected with one or the other disease as the overall immunity becomes very low with this condition.

- There will be confusion and this can affect the overall working of the body. Many people become depressed due to this condition in the long run.

-  It can also lead to weight loss and the pressure on the kidney will be huge when antibodies are unnecessarily produced in such large quantities in the body. The kidney will not be able to process large volumes of calcium in the blood and this can even lead to kidney failure in extreme cases.

Causes of Multiple Myeloma

The exact cause of Multiple Myeloma is still not known and it is a result of abnormal multiplication of plasma cells in the body. They eventually overgrow and there will be less space for the RBC and WBC in the bones. This drastically reduces the ability to fight infections and the bones become very weak in the long run. This can also lead to fractures and other problems associated with the kidney. The chances of getting this condition increase with age and most patients are elderly people with weak bones. It also affects men more than women even though the exact cause for this is not yet known. Apart from that, it is interesting to note that black race people are more likely to develop this condition when compared to others. The chances also increase when you have a family history of this disease.

Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma

- Urine Test : When you go for a urine test, it is possible to detect the presence of proteins that cause myeloma. In this way, even a simple test can help to detect cancer in patients. However, further tests are done to confirm the presence of myeloma cancer in the body.

- Blood Test : The myeloma cells produce proteins in abnormal quantity and it becomes easy to detect the traces of macroglobulin in the blood samples. This can give a clear idea about the condition and further tests about the kidney function and blood count in the body will reveal more details about the stage of cancer.

- Bone marrow examination : The sample of the bone marrow is removed for examination and this biopsy test will indicate the presence of myeloma cells. Further analysis will provide details about the rate at which these cells are multiplying in the body. This can help the doctors to choose the appropriate method of treatment to control the cancerous cells in the body. In case of extreme damage to the bone marrow, even transplantation is considered after destroying the existing bone marrow through chemotherapy sessions. This is the best way to provide long-term relief to myeloma patients.

- Imaging Test : These tests include X-Ray, CT and MRI along with PET tests that can determine the health of bones in the body. In this way, any abnormal weakness will be considered as a symptom of myeloma and further tests will be conducted to get confirmation about the cancer cells in the body. Once the damage is detected in many areas, chemotherapy is used to kill the cancer cells across the body and this will slow the growth of myeloma by a huge margin.

Prevention of Multiple Myeloma

There is no known way to prevent multiple myeloma and further research is going on across the world in this regard. However, eating healthy and nutritious food can help to prevent a variety of cancers as they naturally boost the immunity of your body. Along with this, having the right food and leading a healthy lifestyle will keep you active. You will have the strength to fight against various diseases. Remember that obesity and other health issues can add to the complications when you are suffering from cancer and you should always try to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Treatment for Multiple Myeloma

- Many people have this condition but do not get many symptoms. In this situation, even though cancer is detected in the body, treatment is not started. However, the patient will be frequently monitored to watch the growth of cancer cells in the body. As long as the growth is not too much, treatment is not started.

- In the next stage when symptoms begin to appear, they are controlled using medication. This can reduce the pain to a certain extent and it will also slow down the progress of cancer cells in the body. This stage is maintained for as long as possible without starting further treatment.

-  However, once the growth of the cancer cells is high, treatment begins and doctors may use targeted therapy to provide drugs for the specific abnormalities in the cancer cells. In this way, the rate at which the myeloma cells produce protein can be reduced and this slows down cancer to a certain extent. It can kill the myeloma cells and provide relief to the patient.

-  The immune system of the body needs a good boost when it is fighting against cancer and medication is provided to achieve this condition. In this way, the growth of cancer is slowed down and patients can survive for many years without any problems.

-  When cancer has advanced too much, chemotherapy is used and this can kill the myeloma cells throughout the body. In this way, it can slow down cancer and provide space for further treatment. This procedure is usually used before going for a transplantation of the bone marrow.

-  Finally, the patient is made to undergo a bone marrow transplant and this builds the bone marrow in a fresh way. The chemotherapy did before this procedure would have destroyed the bone marrow completely and this allows for fresh growth in the affected area. It continues for many weeks and provides long-term relief for patients.

- Along with these methods, even radiation therapy is used to target the treatment to specific areas. This can kill myeloma cells and contain their growth in the future. When the myeloma is very huge, this is effective as it can shrink the size and provide a way for further treatment. It also reduces pain and provides relief for patients in the advanced stage of myeloma.

Complications of Multiple Myeloma

- The overall immunity level in the body drops by a huge margin as it loses its strength to fight infections. This leads to frequent illness and the patients generally suffer from various infections during this stage. It is necessary to take medication to control these symptoms and they become an additional burden apart from the Myeloma disease.

- It majorly affects the bones and it can lead to thinning of bones in the long run. In extreme cases, it can lead to broken bones and when this happens in the spine region, it can be very painful. Even when the bones are not broken, this condition causes a lot of pain in the bones and patients to need regular medication to control the pain.

- The condition produces higher than required amounts of protein in the body that cannot be easily processed by the kidneys. This affects the functioning of the kidneys and leads to various issues. In the same way, this condition also thins the bones and the amount of calcium in the blood increases to abnormal levels. This further puts more load on the kidney and leads to various complications. In extreme cases, it can also lead to kidney failure.

- There will be multiple complications related to blood in the body when you are suffering from this condition. It does not leave much space for healthy white blood cells and red blood cells and this can lead to general fatigue and even anaemia in most cases.

Myths about Multiple Myeloma

Myth #1: Multiple Myeloma only affects bones :

It is a complete myth that myeloma affects only bones. Even though it begins with bones, it can spread to other regions and create complications with kidney functions. In extreme situations, it can even lead to kidney failure.

Myths #2: Multiple Myeloma only affects old people :

while it is true that older people are more prone to get this type of cancer, it can even affect youngsters. However, the chances of getting myeloma increase with age and this are the reason for the general misconception among people.

Myths #3: Multiple Myeloma is fatal :

it is true that there is no cure for myeloma. However, it can be treated effectively and the lifespan can be prolonged for a long duration. With advanced treatment options, it is possible to effectively provide treatment and keep the symptoms under control. This can help the patients to lead a comfortable life for many years without any issues.

Myths #4: Multiple Myeloma affects only African Americans :

This can even affect people from other races and there is no rule that it affects only African American people. However, it is true that African Americans are more prone to getting Myeloma. The chances of getting affected are more when you have a family history of this disease. For this reason, you should always get yourself examined for such issues and try to detect them early. In this way, you will have enough time to get the right treatment and this can be controlled to a major extent in the future.

Conclusion

This can be very painful and you should be very careful when you are diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Remember that even though there is no cure for this cancer, it is still possible to get treatment at the right stage and survive for a long duration without any issues. If you are lucky enough to get it diagnosed in the early stages, you can control the growth of cancer cells using various treatment methods and this will keep the myeloma under control for many years. When every other form of treatment has failed, the final option is to go for chemotherapy that will destroy the bone marrow completely and you can then choose stem cell transplantation to rebuild the bone marrow. This can give you a fresh lease of life and you will be able to prevent the growth of cancer cells by a huge margin. However, it is essential to carefully monitor the situation regularly so that you can be sure that the growth of cancer cells is restricted to a major extent in the body.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

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