Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer (hematological cancer) developing in bone marrow. In multiple myeloma, plasma cells become defunct. Unlike plasmacytoma
Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer (hematological cancer) developing in bone marrow. In multiple myeloma, plasma cells become defunct. Unlike plasmacytoma which is focused in one location, multiple myeloma spreads to other bone marrow locations throughout the patient’s body. Unfortunately, there is no cure for multiple myeloma. However, a successful multiple myeloma treatment may give patients many years to enjoy with their family.
Doctors name 3 main types of multiple myeloma:
• Smouldering myeloma – multiple myeloma which does not cause any negative effects to patient’s body. Doctors sometimes abstain from treating this type of blood cancer until it becomes more active.
• Normal Multiple myeloma
• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia – aggressive form of multiple myeloma, requiring more radical approach and developing usually as a secondary disease after a normal multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is often found out through routine blood tests followed by more detailed research when an atypical blood cell count is found out. However, if such a blood test is not conducted, with time symptoms of multiple myeloma (but not of smouldering myeloma) will be experienced, such as:
• Bone osteoporosis
• Bone pain and feeling of bone tenderness
• Recurring infections
• General feeling of tiredness and weakness
• Very rarely – bruising and atypical bleeding
Most important factor deciding whether one is suitable to undergo a multiple myeloma treatment is overall state of health. Some patients with other medical conditions may be too weak to participate in standard treatment or any treatment at all apart from palliative measures. Older patients over the age of 70 are usually given a less intensive multiple myeloma treatment, while younger people undergo intensive one, as well as their health, allows it.
As chemotherapy and targeted therapy are main tools in fighting the multiple myeloma, there is no elaborate preparation involved. It is preferred to inform your oncologist about all medical conditions you have and medicines you take for them in order to choose a correct set of drugs in your multiple myeloma treatment. Additionally, a healthy diet and exercises are advised (within your possibilities) in order to keep your body healthy and ready for fighting with your blood cancer.
Treatment for multiple myeloma is usually based on:
• Chemotherapy treatment – a combination of strong drugs is introduced to patient’s body through the bloodstream or as a pill.
• Targeted treatment for multiple myeloma – there are several medicines which directly affect plasma cells and therefore causes less harm to other body cells.
• Steroids – serve as a support for chemotherapy in more effective destroying of defunct plasma cells.
• Stem cell transplant – it is used to replenish the plasma cells after the chemotherapy treatment is finished. It can be autologous stem cell transplant or taken from your close relatives such as siblings.
After the first stage of treatment for multiple myeloma is finished patients usually enjoy months or even years without myeloma relapse. However, sooner or later the disease is back and a new treatment is conducted, usually involving lenalidomide.
Several sessions in the period of few months
After initial multiple myeloma treatment, symptoms of myeloma cease to appear for a few months or even years. However, it is a period during which patients learn to live with chemotherapy side effects which are rather long-lasting.
Risks of multiple myeloma treatment include:
• Lung problems
• Damage to other organs such as kidneys and heart
• Nerve damage
• Lenalidomide may in extreme cases lead to a secondary cancer
Chemotherapy as a treatment for multiple myeloma may cause also several non-life-threatening side effects such as appetite disruptions, problems with memory and concentration, a general feeling of weakness and tiredness. The exact set of chemotherapy side effects depends on a patient.
Normal multiple myeloma life expectancy is quite high as compared with other types of cancer. Up to 77% people with multiple myeloma live more than a year, 47% more than five years and 33% - more than ten years, which is a really good result. Additionally, multiple myeloma survival rate grows together with the development of new generations of targeted therapies.