What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is caused when the plasma cells multiply rapidly and release a special protein, also known as M proteins (a type of dysfunctional immunoglobulin), into the blood. The increase of M protein causes damage to the body organs (like the kidneys).
Risk Factors of Multiple Myeloma
Although there is still some speculation around what actually causes multiple myeloma, there are certain factors that put you at higher risk of being diagnosed. These are:
● If you are above the age of 65
● If you are male
● If you are African American
● If you have a family history of the disease
● If you are obese or overweight
● If you have been exposed to radiation
Multiple Myeloma Symptoms
There are different multiple myeloma symptoms to watch out for, but keep in mind these multiple myeloma symptoms may be related to another condition or may not present themselves at an early stage.
How is Multiple Myeloma Diagnosed?
Initially, if you are presenting with symptoms that may cause concern, your doctor will order a couple of blood tests and urine tests.
● A Complete Blood Count (CBC) to check certain levels of different cells in your blood.
● A Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) & Creatinine Test to check how well your kidneys are
● Serum Protein Electrophoresis for finding the M proteins.
Depending on the results of your blood test, to further confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may carry out a bone marrow biopsy.
A bone marrow biopsy involves using a thin needle and passing it through your hip and into your bone to collect a small sample of marrow. The marrow is then examined and the number of plasma cells present is counted.
Imaging tests like X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI, or PET Scan can also be used to identify any damage to the bone.
Other Health Complications Caused by Multiple Myeloma
There are other health complications associated with multiple myeloma as this type of cancer involves your blood and bones.
Treating Multiple Myeloma
Once your doctor has analyzed your test results and based on your multiple myeloma symptoms, your doctor will determine the stage of multiple myeloma to provide you with the best treatment plan. Staging highlights how aggressive the cancer is based on different factors for
different types of cancer.
Staging of multiple myeloma is determined by:
● Albumin (protein produced by the liver) levels in the blood
● Beta-2-microglobulin (tumor indicator) levels in the blood or urine
● Amount of Lactic Acid Dehydrogenase (LDH) in the blood
● Chromosome abnormalities in the cancer cells (cytogenetics)
Treatment Options for Multiple Myeloma
Here are some treatment options available for multiple myeloma. Depending on your diagnosis, these treatment options may be used as a combination or separately to treat multiple myeloma.
Other factors considered are age, overall health, and stage of cancer.
● Targeted Therapy: This treatment option involves medication and drugs administered to target and kill the cancer cells only and sparing the normal cells thereby reducing the side effects on the body.
● Immunotherapy: This type of therapy works with your immune system to help stop the cancer cells from spreading.
● Chemotherapy: Similar to targeted therapy, chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
● Corticosteroids: These drugs may be given in addition to another therapy to help control inflammation in the body.
● Bone Marrow Transplant: This procedure involves replacing damaged bone marrow by transplanting healthy stem cells which help to promote the growth of healthy bone marrow.
● Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-intensity energy rays to shrink and kill cancer cells.
Choosing the right treatment option can be difficult and overwhelming. Ensure you ask your doctor questions regarding the efficacy and side effects of each treatment before choosing the best modality of treatment.
The treatment options in myeloma are fairly successful with minimal side effects.
Follow-Up Care is Imperative
As a cancer survivor, follow-up care is crucial to ensuring you stay healthy. Your doctor will monitor your health post-treatment to ensure cancer has not returned.
Here is some advice to stay healthy post multiple myeloma treatment:
For further information or to book a consultation, you can contact Zeeva Clinic.