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About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer originating from plasma cells. Plasma cells are one type of white blood cells and they are found in the bone marrow. These cells are in charge of production of specific type of proteins - antibodies. In patients suffering from multiple myeloma plasma cells start to multiple uncontrollably and destroy the surrounding bone tissue. This is why patients usually complain about pain in the affected area. Apart from bone destruction multiple myeloma is also responsible for problems associated with other systems and organs such as the immune system and kidneys.

Initially there are no symptoms or signs. However, progression of the disease may cause some of the following: bone pain, excessive thirst or urination, anemia, unexplained bone fractures, frequent infections, weight loss and weakness or numbness in the legs. Abnormal proteins produced by cancer cells are easily identified in the blood and urine. Release of calcium form the damaged bones causes high level of calcium in the blood and additional symptoms and signs such as excessive thirst and/or urination, loss of appetite, nausea, constipation and mental confusion.

The cause of multiple myeloma has not been identified yet. However, some scientists have found that in people suffering from multiple myeloma there are genetic abnormalities possibly related to the cancer.

Therapy for Multiple Myeloma

Standard treatment for multiple myeloma includes medications such as bortezomib, thalidomide, lenalidomide, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, stem transplantation and radiation therapy.

Bortezomid belongs to proteasome inhibitors and it is suitable for patients who have just been diagnosed with the disease as well as those who have already been treated for multiple myeloma. Thalidomide and lenalidomide are indicated in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. Chemotherapeutics are in case of multiple myeloma administered in a pill form or intravenously. Some of them are vincristine, cyclophosphamide etc. Stem cell transplantation is a procedure that first uses high-dose chemotherapy followed by administration of immature stem cells which will replace the damaged bone marrow. Stem cells are in majority of cases obtained from a donor. The goal of radiation therapy is to damage the localized tumor masses that have not responded to other therapies. And finally, corticosteroids have been used for many years on patients suffering from multiple myeloma.

Treatment plan depends n the stage of the disease, complications and whether the cancer is newly diagnosed or the disease is in a relapse. Special attention is given to treatment-resistant multiple myeloma. Patients with cancer relapse may be treated with the same therapy as they initially were or the treatment can be changed. And finally patients with complications (kidney complications, anemia, infection etc.) require additional treatments.

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