Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that is found in the bone marrow. These cells are responsible for producing antibodies that help fight infections, but in multiple myeloma, the plasma cells become cancerous and form tumours in the bones.
Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma often develops slowly, and the symptoms may not be noticeable in the early stages. However, as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may appear:
- Bone pain, especially in the back, hips, and ribs
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Anaemia (a shortage of red blood cells)
- Kidney problems
- Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood)
Causes of Multiple Myeloma
The exact cause of multiple myeloma is not known. However, researchers believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors may play a role in the development of the disease.
- Risk factors for multiple myeloma include:
- Being over the age of 60
- Being African American
- Having a family history of the disease
- Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as benzene
- Having certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome
Treatment of Multiple Myeloma
The treatment of multiple myeloma depends on the stage of the disease, the patient's overall health, and preferences.
The main treatment options for multiple myeloma include:
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is usually the first line of treatment for multiple myeloma.
2. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. It is typically used to treat bone tumours and to relieve pain caused by bone damage.
3. Stem cell transplant
A stem cell transplant is a procedure in which a patient's own stem cells are collected and stored before chemotherapy or radiation therapy is used to destroy the cancer cells. The stored stem cells are then infused back into the patient to help the bone marrow recover.
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4. Biological therapy
Biological therapy uses drugs that target specific molecules on the surface of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.
Surgery is typically not used to treat multiple myeloma but may be used in rare cases to remove tumours that are causing pain or other problems.
6. Supportive care
Patients with multiple myeloma may also receive supportive care to help manage symptoms and side effects of treatment, such as pain relief, blood transfusions, and antibiotics to prevent infections.
Prognosis and Survival Rate
The prognosis and survival rate of multiple myeloma depend on the stage of the disease, the patient's overall health, and the effectiveness of the treatment.
With the advance of technology, new drugs, and therapies have been developed that have improved the survival rate, but multiple myeloma is considered incurable, and the cancer may come back after treatment, in many cases.
It's important for patients with multiple myeloma to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their individual needs. With the right treatment, patients with multiple myeloma can live a good quality of life for many years.
In conclusion, multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow, it typically develops slowly and symptoms may not be noticeable in the early stages. It's important for individuals to be aware of the risk factors and to see a healthcare professional if they experience any abnormalities.