Multiple Myeloma

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma, also called Kahler’s disease, is a rare cancer that affects the plasma cells. When the malignant cells form and multiply, they can cause damage to the kidneys, immune system, bones, and red blood cell count. The condition progresses through three stages, with stage III being the most serious.

Numerous factors are taken into consideration when determining how far multiple myeloma has progressed, including severity of bone damage and the amount of hemoglobin and calcium present in the blood. Outlook for patient survival is partly dependent on patient age and kidney health.

What are the Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma?

Some patients will not experience symptoms with multiply myeloma. Others may encounter complications that are non-specific and can make diagnosis of the condition more difficult, such as fever, loss of appetite, and bone pain.

Other symptoms include

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Serious bleeding from minor injuries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Back pain
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Weight loss
  • Severe constipation
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Dehydration
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Stroke-like symptoms
  • Leg swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent infections

How is Multiple Myeloma Treated?

Several therapies are beneficial for patients with multiple myeloma, and the approach will vary depending on where the condition is staged at the time of diagnosis.

Treatments include

Medications like steroids and bisphosphonates, chemotherapy and radiation are common forms of treatment. Some cases may require surgery or stem cell transplants. Plasmapheresis is a procedure where a catheter is hooked up to a machine that separates and removes myeloma proteins from the blood.

In addition, alternative and complimentary methods can be used alongside medical treatment to help the patient feel better. However, some are not necessarily proven to be effective, and some may even be dangerous. So it is important to discuss these options with a doctor before moving forward with their use.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017
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