Multiple myeloma is cancer found in the plasma cells and affects mainly older people. Most patients with this cancer are at least 65 years and older. Though it is a rare type of blood cancer, it is important to know the facts associated with it.
Cancer found in the plasma cells
Multiple myeloma cancer develops when the healthy plasma cells change to get cancerous and start growing out of control leading to bone damage.
Gradually, these cancerous cells lose their capacity to respond to regular stimuli and keep replicating themselves. Eventually, the bone marrow is filled with such cancerous cells, which impede the production of red and white blood cells and platelets.
Multiple areas of bone damage
The term multiple myeloma cancer comes from the fact that this cancer is associated with several areas of bone damage as the disease progresses.
The symptoms of multiple myeloma can vary
Multiple myeloma can have the symptoms mentioned below, or it might not have any symptoms:
- frequent urination
- constipation or nausea
- excess thirst
- frequent fevers and infections
- sudden weight loss
- tiredness and weakness
- pale complexion due to anemia
- bone pain that starts from the back
- broken bones found in the spinal region
It is important to note that none of these symptoms are typical of this type of cancer. The same symptoms can occur due to other health issues. Thus, it is important to report such symptoms to your doctor in time.
The causes of multiple myeloma are yet to be known
The reason why multiple myeloma happens is yet to be known by doctors. However, the most common theory is that the plasma cells turn cancerous from DNA changes. Since DNA helps the cells grow and multiply, cancer is caused due to abnormal DNA changes that lead to rapid cell growth.
Multiple myeloma has many risk factors
A person is more likely to get multiple myeloma due to the following risk factors, though it is not like everyone with the given risk factors gets the disease. As such, some of the most common risk factors are:
The most common risk factor for the disease is age. Most people who have been diagnosed with this type of cancer are more than 71 years old. It is rarely found in patients below 40 years of age.
There are fewer cases of women getting multiple myeloma than men.
Some studies reveal that obesity might increase the chances of myeloma.
Radiation exposure –
Radioactive exposure is a common risk factor, though not many cases have it as a cause of the disease.
Exposure due to job –
According to some studies, working in an oil-based industry might make an individual more susceptible to the disease.
Other plasma cell disorders –
Multiple myeloma is more common in people with any other plasma cell disease.
Early diagnosis of multiple myeloma is difficult
The biggest problem with multiple myeloma is that it is not easy to diagnose in the initial stages. The initial symptoms are vague and might result from other diseases. Doctors usually suspect multiple myeloma not from the symptoms, but from an abnormally high protein level in the blood that is revealed during routine blood tests.
The doctors run a blood panel as a part of the routine examination and note any abnormalities in the blood protein levels. If the protein levels are high, another blood test is ordered to detect which protein is being produced in such high quantities and that finally helps in the diagnosis.
Afterward, doctors may suggest other tests, such as PET scan, MRI, X-rays, and bone marrow biopsy.
Treatment of multiple myeloma depends on disease progression
After being diagnosed with the disease, the doctors start the treatment by assessing the advancement of the disease. There are cases where the patient has high blood protein levels without any other symptoms. Such cases are usually kept under observation but not treated until there are any more signs of advancement of the disease.
Some of the common types of treatment are bone marrow transplant, drug therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Multiple myeloma cannot be prevented
There are no definite risk factors associated with the disease. Thus, it is very hard to prevent the occurrence of multiple myeloma. Other than the patients of any plasma cell disease who take drugs for the prevention of the respective diseases, there are no risk factors that can be mitigated.
If you note any of the symptoms listed above, make sure to seek treatment in time. You can book your appointment at BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi and seek the advice of an experienced doctor.