Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells. In multiple myeloma, malignant plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out the normal plasma cells that help fight infections. These malignant plasma cells then produce abnormal proteins (m protein) which may cause tumors, damage the kidneys, and impair immune system function. In some cases, the malignant cells may cause a single tumor, called a solitary plasmacytoma, but if multiple tumors are formed, then the disease is called multiple myeloma.
HOW IS MULTIPLE MYELOMA DIAGNOSED?
A general physician may detect the condition accidentally during a blood test or urine tests. A bone marrow test is needed for definitive diagnosis. Imaging tests such as x –rays, MRI and PET scan will help in identifying the severity of the disease.
HOW IS MULTIPLE MYELOMA TREATED?
There is no known treatment that cures multiple myeloma. However, there are methods to decrease the occurrence and severity of symptoms and prolong life. The therapy is decided based upon the patient's condition and the cancer management team, made with the patient's input. The choices for treatments) often include combinations of drugs, some of which are given as pills and others by intravenous injection. There may be a role for high-dose chemotherapy followed by the administration of bone marrow stem cells called a stem cell transplant or transplantation. Painful areas of bone damage may be treated with radiation therapy. Broken bones can be surgically repaired in many cases.