Myeloma is a kind of blood cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. This disease happens when plasma cells become cancerous and create tumours called plasmacytomas. This is also called multiple myeloma. Plasma cells are the white blood cells developed in the bone marrow that create a large number of antibodies. Bone marrow is the soft tissue found inside some of the bones and is where all blood cells are formed.
Causes and Risk Factors
Some risk factors are mentioned here that could improve someone’s risk of getting multiple myeloma.
Age: The risk of growing multiple myeloma develops with age. People above the age of 65 years or more are often diagnosed with this disorder.
Gender: This cancer is more common in men than in women.
Family medical records: It seems to run in some families. If you have parents and siblings with myeloma in your family then you will be more likely to increase this disorder.
Obesity: Having overweight or being obese increases a person’s chance to develop multiple myeloma.
Exposure to radiation or chemicals: Exposure to some radiation and chemicals such as benzene and pesticides can increase the risk of getting it. There is also more risk of myeloma among firefighters.
The reason behind this situation is not exactly known. However, experts say that it starts with one abnormal plasma cell in our bone marrow. These abnormal cells then multiply rapidly. Myeloma cells in the bone marrow crowd out the healthy RBCs and WBCs leading to fatigue and inability to fight infections.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms may vary from person to person. Many people do not experience all the signs at the initial stages of multiple myeloma. Commonly found symptoms in a patient of multiple myeloma are :
- Weakness and fatigue
- Excessive weight loss
- Frequent infections, fevers, and other illnesses
- Bone tenderness and pain
- Bone weakness and fractures
- Frequent urination
- Kidney damage
- Nerve damage
- Increased thirst
- Weakness and numbness in the legs
Is Multiple Myeloma always fatal?
Multiple Myeloma is cancer that develops in the plasma of a white blood cell. It causes the cancer cells to grow in the bone marrow. While, the myeloma cells try to create antibodies, as healthy plasma cells do, it begins to produce abnormal antibodies which are not usable by the body. Instead, the unusual antibodies build up in the body cause difficulties such as harm to the kidneys. Some people are blessed to be born into a form of myeloma that is not aggressive. It is already in the patient, but it does not display any outward signs. It remains in this mode for about 6 to 10 years and sometimes even 20. You are most likely to survive if you are diagnosed at an age of less than forty-nine. The medium age, in this case, is nearby seventy years old. At an initial age, the myeloma is also at an initial stage, which makes it simpler to cure. Over the years, about 70% of patients with Myeloma have managed to survive, so myeloma is not fatal. However, sometimes the people may have active disease. The Myeloma may be too competitive, and the symptoms might be pronounced to find. Myeloma is the second most dangerous cancer in the world.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Blood test: A blood report may detect abnormal proteins generated by myeloma cells that can indicate the stage of your myeloma.
Urine test: Urine examination may identify the presence of M proteins, also known as Bence-jones protein. This test is most often conducted to diagnose multiple myeloma.
Bone marrow test: Specific tests such as fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) are performed to detect myeloma cells in bone marrow. This test is also done to estimate the rate of myeloma cells multiplication inside the bone marrow.
Treatment may help:
- To reduce pain
- To control complications of the disease
- To stabilize the condition
- To slow down the progress of multiple myelomas
The standard treatment methods include
Medications: Your doctor may guide you on medication depending on your age and stage of your cancer. It will concentrate on specific abnormalities within the myeloma cells. Bortezomib, Carfilzomib and Ixazomib are the options of medicines your physician will guide.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy kills the fastest growing cancer cells. Bendamustine, Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine and Etoposide are some chemotherapeutic agents that your Cancer Specialist may include in your treatment.