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Multiple Myeloma Bone Marrow Cancer- Overview of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
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Multiple Myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs.

Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they attack healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause kidney problems.

Treatment for multiple myeloma isn't always necessary. If you're not experiencing signs and symptoms, you may not require treatment. If signs and symptoms develop, a number of treatments can help control your multiple myeloma.

Symptoms associated with multiple myeloma

Initially, there are less or no signs of multiple myeloma. When signs and symptoms do occur, they can include:


Tests and diagnosis for multiple myeloma

Your multiple myeloma may be detected when you undergo a blood test for some other condition. Your doctor may suspect multiple myeloma based on your signs and symptoms. Procedures involved in diagnosing multiple myeloma include:
  • Blood tests: Lab analysis of your blood may reveal the presence of M proteins made by myeloma cells. Beta-2-microglobulin (another abnormal protein) may also be detected during your blood test which can give your doctor clues about the aggressiveness of your myeloma. In addition, blood test helps in determining kidney function, blood cell counts, calcium levels and uric acid levels.
  • Urine tests: Analysis of your urine may show M proteins, which are referred to as Bence Jones proteins when they're detected in urine.
  • Examination of your bone marrow: Your doctor may remove a sample of bone marrow for laboratory testing. The sample is collected with a long needle inserted into a bone.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests may include X-ray, MRI, CT or positron emission tomography (PET) that is suggested to identify bone problems associated with multiple myeloma.

Treatment options for multiple myeloma

If you are diagnosed with multiple myeloma but aren't experiencing any symptoms, you may not require treatment. Your doctor will still regularly monitor your condition for signs the disease is progressing. This may involve periodic blood and urine tests.

Though there's no cure for multiple myeloma, the treatment aims at reducing symptoms and allowing you to return to near-normal activity. Treatment options include:
  • Targeted therapy: This treatment focuses on specific abnormalities within cancer cells that allow them to survive. Targeted drugs block the action of a substance in myeloma cells that breaks down proteins. This action causes myeloma cells to die.
  • Biological therapy: Biological therapy is used to strengthen your immune system to fight myeloma cells. The drugs used in biological therapy enhance the immune system cells that identify and attack cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs kill fast-growing cells, including myeloma cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be given through a vein in your arm or taken in pill form.
  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids help the immune system to manage inflammation in the body. They also are active against myeloma cells.
  • Stem cell transplantation: It is procedure to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. Prior to the process, blood-forming stem cells are collected from your blood. You then receive high doses of chemotherapy to destroy your diseased bone marrow.
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment uses beams of energy, such as X-rays, to damage myeloma cells and stop their growth.

Eating a balanced diet, relaxing and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer.