Multiple Myeloma, things to know

Cancer can be scary but if diagnosed early enough it can be treated. Multiple Myeloma refers to a type of blood cancer. This causes plasma cells to multiply at a higher than normal rate. Plasma cells typically generate antibodies that help build immunity but in these cases, they release excessive amounts of immunoglobulin proteins into the blood and bones causing organ damage and weakened bones. Multiple myeloma treatment takes many forms depending on the extent of damage caused.

When it comes to treating cancer like this, the earlier the condition is diagnosed; the easier the Multiple myeloma treatment. Hence it is important to recognise the symptoms associated with multiple myeloma. In its early stages, this condition may not present any symptoms but as it worsens, it can cause bone pain, weakness and weight loss. It can also cause the development of purplish lumps under the skin called extramedullary plasmacytomas.

People suffering from conditions such as Solitary plasmacytoma or Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance have a high risk of suffering from multiple myeloma. The risk of suffering from this condition is also high is you are older than 65 years, an African American or have a family member who also suffers from it.

Multiple myeloma treatment is most effective in cases where the patient also suffers from anaemia, high levels of calcium, kidney problems or lytic bone lesions. Some of the most effective forms of treatment for this condition are:

Stem Cell Transplantation: The first step of this procedure involves harvesting stem cells from a donor or the patient himself and freezing them. The patient is them given high doses of chemotherapy to destroy cells in the bone marrow. The destroyed cells include both healthy cells and plasma cells. The harvested stem cells are then re-injected into the patient’s veins where they travel through the bone marrow and create new, health cells. This does not cure multiple myeloma but improves the patient’s quality of life and elongates it. One of the possible side effects to this form of treatment is an increased vulnerability to infections.

Chemotherapy: Like all other types of cancer, Multiple myeloma treatment also takes the form of chemotherapy. This form of treatment is very effective in cases where patients cannot be treated with stem cell transplantation. Chemotherap can also be combined with other drugs including that can help reduce its side effects.

Immunotherapy: This form of treatment is usually reserved for patients who cannot be effectively treated with other forms of treatment. It involves the use of antibodies that attack and destroy cancer cells.

Radiation therapy: Radiation involves treating patients with high energy beams such as X-rays. The beam is directed to parts of the body affected by cancer and kills the plasma cells thus reducing pain and strengthening the bones.