Multiple Myeloma

Also called: Plasma-cell myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. These cells are part of your immune system, which helps protect the body from germs and other harmful substances. In time, myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow and in the solid parts of bones.

No one knows the exact causes of multiple myeloma, but it is more common in older people and African Americans. It can run in families. Common symptoms may include

  • Bone pain, often in the back or ribs
  • Broken bones
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections and fevers
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Frequent urination

Doctors diagnose multiple myeloma using lab tests, imaging tests, and a bone marrow biopsy. Your treatment depends on how advanced the disease is and whether you have symptoms. If you have no symptoms, you may not need treatment right away. If you have symptoms, you may have chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, radiation, or targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

The following features are indicative of Multiple Myeloma:
  • bone pain
  • broken bone
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • frequent infections
  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • anemia
  • kidney failure
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • numbness in legs
  • confusion
  • shortness of breath
  • abnormal bleeding
It is possible that Multiple Myeloma shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Multiple Myeloma

The following are the most common causes of Multiple Myeloma:
  • abnormal plasma cell in bone marrow
  • abnormal antibodies production
  • past treatment with radiation therapy

Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Multiple Myeloma:
  • people in their mid-60s
  • being women
  • black race population
  • history of a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  • obesity
  • alcohol consumption

Prevention of Multiple Myeloma

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Multiple Myeloma. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • maintaining a normal body weight

Occurrence of Multiple Myeloma

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Multiple Myeloma cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Multiple Myeloma can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Multiple Myeloma can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Multiple Myeloma:
  • Blood tests: To detect abnormal protein produced by myeloma cells and to examine kidney function, blood cell counts, calcium levels and uric acid levels
  • Urine tests: To detect bence jones proteins in urine
  • Bone marrow examination: To examine myeloma cells
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test: To understand chromosomal abnormalities of myeloma cells
  • Imaging tests: To detect bone problems associated with multiple myeloma

Doctor for Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Multiple Myeloma:
  • Hematologist
  • Oncologist

Complications of Multiple Myeloma if untreated

Yes, Multiple Myeloma causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Multiple Myeloma is left untreated:
  • frequent infections
  • bone problems
  • reduced kidney function
  • low red blood cell count (anemia)

Procedures for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

The following procedures are used to treat Multiple Myeloma:
  • Targeted therapy: To treat specific abnormalities within cancer cells
  • Biological therapy: To fight against myeloma cells
  • Chemotherapy: To kill fast-growing cells, including myeloma cells
  • Stem cell transplantation: To replace diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow
  • Radiation therapy: To damage myeloma cells and stop their growth

Self-care for Multiple Myeloma

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Multiple Myeloma:
  • Keep yourself relaxed: Helps combating the stress and fatigue of cancer
  • Eat healthy diet: Eating well helps combating the stress and fatigue of cancer
  • Take rest: Helps combating the stress and fatigue of cancer

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Multiple Myeloma:
  • Acupuncture: Helps to cope up with the side effects of myeloma and myeloma treatment
  • Aromatherapy: Helps reducing stress
  • Massage therapy: Helps reducing stress and anxiety
  • Do meditation: Helps relaxing mind

Patient Support for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

The following actions may help Multiple Myeloma patients:
  • Friends and family support: Sharing helps to cope up with issues and anxieties that might occur after treatment
  • Formal support group: Talking to other patients with similar problems helps reducing stress

Time for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Multiple Myeloma to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Multiple Myeloma.
Bone Marrow Diseases
Bone Marrow Transplantation

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