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.

Medication

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

Multiple Myeloma Causes

The exact cause of multiple myeloma isn’t known, but we do know the abnormal cell multiples quickly. It starts with one abnormal plasma cell in the bone marrow. As the cells multiply, they become dominant, crowding out the healthy white and red blood cells. This stops the body fighting infections.

One link to this blood cancer is monoclonal – known as M – protein, which is produced by the abnormal cells. In this case, it’s not normal for the body to have so many copies of the same abnormal protein. As the level of M proteins increase, the condition worsens, invading other parts of the body.

Older adults have a higher risk, largely due to the body’s helplessness to fight infections. Since the condition attacks the bone, older adults have fewer defenses as their bones age, making them more susceptible.

Although it’s not considered a hereditary disease, genetics may play a role in this condition linked to the c-mc oncogenes – if you have a family member with multiple myeloma, there may be a family pattern.

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.

Multiple Myeloma Prevention

Multiple myeloma is not preventable mainly because the risk factors are still a mystery. If you do have a family member with the disease, talk with your doctor. Blood tests can help to determine the health and content of M proteins.

There are treatments consisting of chemotherapy combined with medications. You do need to talk with your doctor before starting treatment, since some of the medications may have side effects. Your doctor can determine what works best you.

Some believe that self-remedies or home treatments may help to cure the multiple myeloma condition. Talk with your doctor to discuss any changes to your diet first – even natural combinations may affect the results of medical treatments or aggravate the condition.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
April 23, 2018