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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that develops in the spinal cord. Find out more about its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment below.

Multiple Myeloma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that occurs in a type of white blood cell, namely plasma cells. In fact, plasma cells help the body fight infection by making antibodies that recognize and fight germs.

However, this type of cancer makes abnormal plasma cells grow in the bone marrow and attack healthy blood cells.

As a result, these abnormal plasma cells do not produce antibodies, but instead produce proteins known as monoclonal immunoglobulins, monoclonal proteins, M-proteins, M-spikes, and paraproteins.

The abnormal antibodies that are produced can cause damage to other organs of the body, one of which is the kidneys.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

Although at first this condition does not cause any symptoms, the symptoms that each person feels are different. The following are some of the symptoms that can be recognized, including:

1. Bone Pain

This type of cancer can cause bone pain that doesn’t go away, usually in the back, ribs, or hip area. This pain usually does not go away and gets worse when moving.

2. Easily Experiencing Broken Bones

Multiple myeloma can make bones brittle, making them more prone to fractures. The bones most commonly affected are the arms, legs and spine. A broken spine will cause pain and put pressure on the spinal discs.

3. Anemia

This condition can affect the production of blood cells in the spinal cord, so that the body will lack red blood cells. If you have anemia, the body can feel tired, weak, and short of breath.

4. Recurrent Infections

People with multiple myeloma tend to be more susceptible to infection because this condition affects the immune system. You will also notice the infection takes longer to heal.

5. Hypercalcemia

Increased levels of calcium in the blood occur in sufferers because too much calcium is released from the bones affected by this disease. As a result, the body will feel extreme thirst, stomach pain, frequent urination, and constipation.

6. Abnormal Bleeding

Some people with multiple myeloma will experience abnormal bruising and bleeding, such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

This condition is caused by cancer cells in the spinal cord stopping the production of cells responsible for stopping bleeding.

7. Kidney Problems

This condition will cause the kidneys to stop working normally. As a result, you may experience weight loss, extreme fatigue, swollen feet or hands, hiccups that don’t go away, and sore skin.

8. Blood Thickens

In some cases, this condition can cause blood to become thicker than usual. This condition is caused by excess protein produced by myeloma cells.

Myeloma generally does not cause tumors or lumps. However, this cancer will damage the bones and affect the production of healthy blood cells.

Also Read: 7 Benefits of Bajakah Root for Health, Can it Really Treat Cancer?

When to See a Doctor?

Multiple myeloma can develop without causing specific symptoms, so you are advised to have regular health checks to prevent diseases that attack white blood cells.

Causes of Multiple Myeloma

Until now, the exact cause of this condition is not known. However, it is known that myeloma begins with a single abnormal plasma cell in the spinal cord. These cells will then multiply rapidly.

Cancer cells do not have a cycle like normal cells, abnormal cells will accumulate and interfere with the production of healthy cells, making it difficult for the body to fight infection.

Myeloma cells will also interfere with the formation of normal antibodies so that they can interfere with the body’s ability to fight infection and cause problems in other organs of the body.

In addition, multiple myeloma is known to have a close relationship with monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS).

MGUS is a condition in which there is an excess of immunoglobulin molecules in the blood. This condition does not cause any symptoms and does not require treatment.

Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors

There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of having multiple myeloma, including:

1. Family History

If a parent or sibling has multiple myeloma, your risk of developing this disease will also increase.

2. Have a History of MGUS

Multiple myeloma usually starts with MGUS, so if you have this condition, your risk of developing it increases.

3. Age

A person’s risk of developing this type of cancer will increase with age. Generally, people get a diagnosis of this disease in their mid-60s.

4. Gender Male

It is known that men have a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma than women.

5. Race

People with black skin have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer than people of other races.

Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of disease that is difficult to diagnose because it doesn’t show any specific symptoms. In order to detect whether a person has this condition, the doctor will usually carry out a series of tests based on symptoms and related risk factors.

Several types of tests that multiple myeloma sufferers must undergo, including:

1. Urine Examination

Through urine examination, it can be detected the presence of M protein in the urine.

2. Blood Test

After a urine examination, the next step that can be taken is a blood test.

Blood tests are carried out to determine the presence of M protein produced by myeloma cells.

In addition, a blood test is also carried out to detect beta-2-microglobulin protein so that doctors can determine the level of malignancy of myeloma cells in the body.

3. Bone Marrow Aspiration Examination

This test is done by taking blood and tissue samples from a bone marrow aspirate taken from the pelvic bone, this is necessary to see a picture of plasma cell growth.

4. Scanning

Scans that can be done include X-rays, MRI, CT scans, and PET scans. Scans are needed to detect abnormalities in the bones that are associated with multiple myeloma. Body parts that can be scanned include the spine, head, arms, legs and pelvis.

Also Read: Recognizing the Differences of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy

Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

Just as the cause is not known with certainty, an effective treatment for this condition has not yet been found.

Even so, some treatments can be done to relieve pain, prevent complications and slow its progression.

Some of the treatments that can be done to treat multiple myeloma are:

1. Chemotherapy and Drugs

There are various forms of drugs that can be used to treat multiple myeloma. Some drugs that can be given by doctors include:

  • Chemotherapy, this therapy is given with the aim of killing myeloma cells that grow too fast.
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are given to control inflammation and regulate the immune system.
  • Targeted therapies, such as bortezomib and carfilzomib, are given to inhibit and stop cancer cell growth.
  • Biological drug therapy, such as thalidomide and lenalidomide, are given to boost the patient’s immune system so it can fight myeloma cells.

In addition, the doctor will also provide supporting drugs, such as:

  • Pain relievers.
  • Medication to prevent bone breakdown.
  • Medication to increase blood.

2. Radiotherapy

This therapy uses high-energy beams such as X-rays, with the aim of destroying and stopping the growth of myeloma cells.

3. Bone Marrow Transplant or Stem Cells

This procedure is done by replacing abnormal cells in the bone marrow with healthy bone marrow cells. These cells come from stem cells donor.

Also Read: Important Things to Do When You Are Diagnosed with Cancer

Multiple Myeloma Complications

If not treated quickly, this condition can cause various complications, including:

  • Frequent infections. Myeloma cells can inhibit the body’s ability to fight infection.
  • Bone problems. This disease can affect the bones, including bone pain, thinning bones, and bone destruction.
  • Decreased kidney function. this type of cancer can cause kidney problems, including kidney failure.
  • Anemia. Multiple myeloma can interfere with normal cell production, resulting in anemia or a low red blood cell count.

Prevention of Multiple Myeloma

Until now there is no known scientifically proven way of prevention. However, you can adopt a healthy lifestyle, including consuming more foods that are minimally processed so that the body gets maximum nutrition. This step can help reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer in the body.

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