What is Multiple Myeloma?
The bone marrow is a spongy tissue that is soft and located at the center of the bones. The plasma cells originate from this bone marrow and multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects these plasma cells. In this type of cancer, the plasma cells become malignant and start to produce an antibody called M protein apart from crowding the normal cells that are needed to fight infections. These M proteins are of no use in the body and cause tumors in the various organs. The presence of this protein is the main reason for multiple myeloma. There are two different types of myeloma:
- Indolent – Where there are no symptoms
- Active – Where there are symptoms.
Multiple Myeloma Symptoms
The major signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma as the disease progress are given as acronym CRAB.
Calcium: In this condition, there are high levels of calcium in the body resulting in:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Upset stomach including constipation
Kidney failure due to high levels of M protein. The patients also suffer issues with urination and have repeated infections.
Anemia: The cancerous cells are in larger numbers than the RBCs in the bone marrow causing:
- Unexpected weight loss
Bone injuries: The cancerous cells attack the bones and the bone marrow and can result in fractures. Multiple myeloma pain in legs, back, pelvis, skull, and ribs. There is also a great deal of weakness in the legs and other parts of the body.
Who is at Risk?
Multiple myeloma risks are higher in:
- People who have a history of monoclonal gammopathy are at risk of this disease.
- A family history of this disease.
- Men than in women
- People of African-American descent
- People over the age of 50
- People who are obese or overweight
- People who are working in places where they are exposed to radiation or are working in the petroleum industry.
- People who are in contact with the chemicals used in manufacturing rubber, herbicides, woodworking.
- Firefighters who are exposed to chemicals used in fire repellants.
Multiple Myeloma Causes
The exact reason for the trigger of plasma cells becoming malignant is not yet known. However:
- Abnormal cells multiply rapidly more than what it should.
- The cancerous cells do not die normally and instead of dying, they divide themselves and start to overcrowd the normal cells.
- The cells also produce M protein in large amounts resulting in many symptoms.
- It also thickens the blood and the protein gets deposited in the organs impairing the functions.
- The trigger can also happen due to exposure to toxic chemicals, and radiation.
- A family history of this disease can also cause multiple myeloma.
- Diseases like MGUS, monoclonal gammopathy can also trigger it.
How is Multiple Myeloma Diagnosed?
The Myeloma symptoms and diagnosis go hand-in-hand. Based on the symptom the doctor may order a:
- Blood test: To determine if there is too much calcium in the blood, the number of RBCs and also learn about kidney function. The blood tests also reveal if there are high protein levels in the blood and low albumin.
- CBC: Based on the reports of the above, a CBC is done to check the count of different cells.
- Urine tests: It is conducted to know the creatinine level and also to know if the body is making abnormal proteins.
- Based on the above results a multiple myeloma doctor may conduct a biopsy, imaging tests, CT scan, MRI, and PET scan.
How is Multiple Myeloma Treated?
There is no multiple myeloma cure available as of now but can be treated to ease the symptoms. It includes:
- Targeted therapy: multiple myeloma treatment drugs that block the chemicals and destroy the proteins. It can be administered through IV or through a vein in the arm.
- Biological therapy: Multiple myeloma medicine uses the body’s immune system to attack myeloma cells. Some pills are also provided to boost immunity.
- Chemotherapy: It is done to kill the myeloma cells and other fast-growing cells.
- Corticosteroids: To reduce inflammation and destroy myeloma cells.
- Radiation: To stop the growth and also to damage myeloma cells.
- Stem cell transplant: Infuse healthy bone marrow into the body.
- Alternative medicine: It is the newest treatment for multiple myeloma where massage, medication, acupuncture, etc. is used.
Contact our expert oncologist at Cure.fit to get the best treatment for multiple myeloma.
How can Multiple Myeloma be Prevented?
Since the reason for this disease is unknown, multiple myeloma prevention is not possible. Some of the things that can be done to reduce the risk are:
- To maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals and other environmental factors.