Multiple Myeloma: What Are The Warning Signs and Treatment Options?


Every year an estimated 32,270 new cases of multiple myeloma are diagnosed in the United States, and approximately 12,830 people lose their life to the disease annually. Although Multiple Myeloma is a relatively rare form of cancer, if you’re over the age of 60, it’s essential to be aware of your risk factors and what the early warning signs are.

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma (sometimes referred to as Kahler’s disease) is a cancer of the blood, in which plasma cells grow out of control. In a healthy person, plasma cells are created in the bone marrow and are a vital player in the immune system.

In people with multiple myeloma, the plasma cells multiply abnormally, creating a buildup of protein, called immunoglobulin, in the bones and blood. This can lead to symptoms such as bone pain, anemia, infections, and damage to your organs.

Your multiple myeloma prognosis is dependent on numerous risk factors such as your age, race, and whether you have a family history of the disease. Multiple myeloma is found more commonly in people over the age of 60. Other risk factors include being male, African American, and obese; however, anyone can contract this type of cancer, so it’s essential to know the symptoms.

Although there’s no cure for Multiple Myeloma, there are treatments available that can slow its spread and, for some people, make symptoms go away. Treatments typically focus on relieving your symptoms, reaching remission, and extending your life.

Early Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

The severity of Multiple Myeloma symptoms differs, depending on what stage of cancer is present. In the early stages, you may not experience any Multiple Myeloma symptoms, however as your infected plasma cells multiply, you may notice increased fatigue, pinched nerves, bone pain, brittle bones, or a weakened immune system.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Multiple Myeloma?

Regular medical checkups rarely include cancer tests, unless you’re presenting with symptoms. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms already mentioned, or believe you may be ill, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Your physician will make a note of your symptoms, and if necessary, order tests that can confirm or rule out Multiple Myeloma.

The following tests can be conducted to find Multiple Myeloma:

Blood test - The blood test for Multiple Myeloma detects the presence of abnormal proteins in your blood, and whether you have a low blood cell count.

Imaging Tests - Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans can reveal bone abnormalities that may be due to Multiple Myeloma.

Bone marrow test - A sample of your bone marrow may be taken to detect if myeloma cells are present.

A urine test - Abnormal Myeloma proteins may be detectable in your urine.

Multiple Myeloma Treatments

As there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma right now, treatments focus on reducing discomfort and extending life expectancy. Sadly most patients who are diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma live no longer than five years after their diagnosis.

Patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma are often in pain; therefore, strong painkillers such as morphine are prescribed to help keep them comfortable.

Multiple Myeloma patients are also prescribed medications that target abnormal proteins in their cells. These medications target and reduce damaged cells. This can help to increase life expectancy. Immunotherapy is also used and helps to improve patient's immune systems.

Other treatment options include bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy.

The Bottom Line

Multiple myeloma is more common in senior males; however, it can affect both sexes and people of any age. Therefore, it’s essential to know the symptoms. The medical industry is working hard to discover new ways to increase life expectancy of cancer patients. New treatments are coming out almost every day and anyone diagnosed should remain hopeful that a cure is just around the corner.

If you believe you’re experiencing any Multiple Myeloma symptoms, you should make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/about/key-statistics.html, https://www.webmd.com/cancer/multiple-myeloma-symptoms-causes-treatment#1, https://www.medicinenet.com/multiple_myeloma/article.htm

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Sergio Cruz

Head Writer

Sergio has been writing for online blogs and news sites for almost 10 years! There isn't a topic he hasn't written about. When he's not busy researching and writing articles, Sergio likes to spend his time traveling and playing guitar.