What is Multiple Myeloma?

The blood is made up of different cells like red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets. The plasma cells are made in the soft tissue found in the hollow of the bones known as bone marrow. Plasma cells are white blood cells which make antibodies to fight infections and diseases.

Myeloma is a type of cancer which affects the Plasma cells.

What happens in Multiple Myeloma?

Myeloma like any other cancerous growth starts from the cells. Abnormal plasma cells grow in the bone marrow and destroy the hard part of the bones. The bones are reduced to powder form of calcium and M Protein which in turn deposits itself in kidneys and other organs and affects their functions. When the abnormal plasma cells grow in several bones the condition is known as Multiple Myeloma.

What are the causes of Multiple Myeloma?

The causes are unknown but there are certain risk factors which increase the chances of Multiple Myeloma, like:

  • Above 65 years of age
  • Affects Men more than Women
  • African- American origins
  • Family history/Heredity/Genes

There may be other underlying conditions which may lead to Multiple Myeloma, and rather than being a cause, the condition may be an early symptom itself.

What are the signs and symptoms of Multiple Myeloma?

The signs and symptoms of Multiple Myeloma are:

  • Bone pain due to bone disease
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue due to anaemia
  • Constipation
  • Excessive thirst and confusion
  • Infections and kidney problems
How is Multiple Myeloma diagnosed?

The doctor may discover some abnormalities in the normal blood tests even in the absence of visible symptoms of Myeloma; these abnormalities may have a clue to the condition of Myeloma. Abnormalities like:

  • High amount of calcium in the blood
  • Low count of red blood cells or anaemia
  • More creatinine which shows impaired kidney functions
  • High levels of protein and low level of albumin
  • Protein deposits in the urine
  • To arrive at a correct diagnosis, the doctor may suggest the following tests for blood, urine and bones:
  • Serum protein electrophoresis and immunoelectrophoresis.
  • Urine protein electrophoresis and urinary immunoelectrophoresis.

Abnormalities in above tests will prove Multiple Myeloma.

Can Multiple Myeloma be cured?

Myeloma can only be treated, it cannot be cured completely. The specialists who treat cancers or myelomas are known as Oncologists. The determination of the stage defines the line of treatment.

A team of doctors will decide the line of treatment and the combination of therapies depending upon the stage of the Myeloma and the extent to which the other organs are affected.

How does one cope with this condition?

Being diagnosed with Myeloma can be disheartening but do not let the condition run you down. Collect information and become a member of a support group. Meet and interact with people who have had myeloma.

After consulting your doctor, adopt some exercise, eat a well balanced diet and drink lots of fluids.

The prognosis or chances of survival is different for different people. However the most progressive and modern form of prediction cannot predict how long a patient may live. Some patients may live for years. Managing and planning may help in leading a quality life. A positive attitude helps.

For family members: This condition is not infectious or contagious so do not stop caring for your loved ones who have myeloma.

Actress Lisa Ray was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and underwent stem cell transplant and is doing well.

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