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All About Multiple Myeloma

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Prashant Mehta 92% (34 ratings)
European Society For Medical Oncology certification, DM - Oncology, MD - General Medicine, MBBS, Fellowship in Bone Marrow Transplant
Oncologist, Faridabad  •  13 years experience
All About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer similar to lymphoma and leukemia. Normally, plasma cells make antibodies which are responsible for fighting off infectious diseases. With multiple myeloma, however, they release too much of a protein known as immunoglobulin. Due to the excess buildup of protein in the body, organ damage occurs. Multiple myeloma cannot be cured, it can only have its progression slowed down. Here is everything you need to know about multiple myeloma:

Causes:
Just like with other forms of cancer, the exact cause of multiple myeloma is not known. However, there are several risk factors which are responsible for increasing your chances of suffering from multiple myeloma.

Risk Factors:

  1. Age: Age poses as one of the most important risk factors. Being over 65 increases your chances of getting multiple myeloma, according to studies.
  2. Race: African-Americans are more likely to get multiple myeloma compared to other races.
  3. Genetics: Multiple myeloma is more likely to happen if a family member has it as well.
  4. Other Diseases: Solitary plasmacytoma, MGUS and other plasma related diseases make you more likely to develop multiple myeloma.

Symptoms: 

Diagnosis: 

Your doctor may test you for multiple myeloma if a blood test reveals:

  1. Too much calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia)
  2. Anemia 
  3. Kidney problems
  4. High protein levels in your blood combined with a low albumin level (globulin gap)

Treatment:

There is no cure for multiple myeloma; however with good treatment you can resume normal activities. Here are the treatment options-

  1. Biological therapy: These are medications given in pill form which enhance the body's immune system; so that it can fight off myeloma cells.
  2. Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is when cancerous cells are killed by targeting the abnormalities within them. These are given through a vein in your arm.
  3. ChemotherapyChemotherapy kills all the cells which are growing at a rapid rate. These drugs can be given through injection or orally.
  4. Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are medicines which regulate the immune system by controlling the inflammation in the body. Corticosteroids can be taken in pill form or even through injections.
  5. Stem Cells Transplant: An autologous stem cell transplant is recommended for all eligible and suitable patients of multiple myeloma under 65 yrs of age, who show a good response to initial therapy, as it has been proven to improve survival. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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