Multiple myeloma, also known as Kahler’s disease or plasma cell myeloma, is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow. These cells, which are a type of white blood cell, normally produce antibodies to help fight off infections. In multiple myeloma, the cells become cancerous and multiply uncontrollably, leading to a buildup of abnormal cells in the bone marrow. This can lead to a number of symptoms and complications, as well as significant damage to the bones.
Symptoms of multiple myeloma can vary depending on the stage of the disease and the individual patient. Some common symptoms include:
- Bone pain, particularly in the back, ribs, and hips
- Fatigue and weakness
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Frequent infections
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Weight loss
- Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood)
In addition to these symptoms, multiple myeloma can also cause a number of complications, such as:
- Bone damage, which can lead to fractures and deformities
- Kidney damage, which can lead to kidney failure
- Hyperviscosity syndrome, which can lead to blood clots and stroke
- Amyloidosis, which can lead to organ damage
Treatment for multiple myeloma is typically determined by the stage of the disease and the overall health of the patient. The main treatment options include:
- Chemotherapy: This is the main treatment for multiple myeloma and typically involves a combination of drugs that are used to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously or orally and may be given as an outpatient or inpatient procedure.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy can be used to target specific areas of the body, such as the spine, to relieve bone pain and prevent fractures.
- Stem cell transplant: This procedure involves replacing the patient’s own stem cells with healthy stem cells from a donor. This is done after high-dose chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy: This is a newer type of treatment that uses drugs to target specific proteins or genes that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Some examples of targeted therapies used to treat multiple myeloma include IMiDs, proteasome inhibitors, and monoclonal antibodies.
- Supportive care: This is an important aspect of treatment for multiple myeloma and can include medications to manage symptoms, such as pain relievers and blood transfusions, as well as physical therapy to help maintain mobility and strength.
Multiple myeloma is a chronic and incurable disease, but with the help of new drugs and treatment options, many people with multiple myeloma can now achieve long-term remission, and live a normal life span.
In conclusion, multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Symptoms of multiple myeloma can include bone pain, fatigue, anemia, and frequent infections. Treatment for multiple myeloma typically includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, and supportive care. With the help of new drugs and treatment options, many people with multiple myeloma can now achieve long-term remission and live a normal life span.