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Myeloma Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Myeloma Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Max Lab

Apr 01, 2024

Myeloma, also known as Kahler’s Disease, is a type of cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell and are required to make proteins called antibodies. These antibodies help the human body fight several kinds of infections by attacking germs.

In multiple myeloma cancer, these cells start growing at an unusually high rate. These cells crowd out normal cells in the bone marrow, which are responsible for the production of red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Since this condition affects more than part of an individual’s body, it is often referred to as multiple myeloma.

Types

Multiple myeloma can be classified in several ways. Generally, the type of myeloma cancer is determined on the basis of immunoglobulins that are being overproduced.

There are 8 different types of myeloma, which are:

  1. Light Chain Myeloma
  2. Non-secretory Myeloma
  3. Solitary Plasmacytoma
  4. Extramedullary Plasmacytoma
  5. Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS)
  6. Smouldering Multiple Myeloma (SMM)
  7. Immunoglobulin D (IgD) Myeloma
  8. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) Myeloma

Symptoms

Myeloma cancer is one of those rare conditions that doesn’t cause any major symptoms at an early stage. Generally, individuals with this type of cancer start experiencing a few symptoms as the condition progresses. These warning signs can vary from one person to another, depending on the severity of the condition. However, there are a few common symptoms of myeloma cancer, such as:

  • Bone pain, especially in the spine, chest, or hips
  • Frequent bone fractures (osteoporosis)
  • frequent infections
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Constant lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination

Causes

Till now, there has been no clarity when it comes to the causes of myeloma. There are several things that are associated with this condition, such as age, gender, etc. In some cases, exposure to X-rays or any other kind of ionizing radiation is assumed to be the cause of myeloma. However, there are no science-backed factors that are known to cause multiple myeloma.

Risk Factors

There are a few things that may increase an individual’s risk of developing multiple myeloma. Some of them are:

  • Age: Individuals above the age of 60 years are most likely to get diagnosed with myeloma.
  • Gender: As compared to women, men are at a higher risk of myeloma disease.
  • Family History: Like several other conditions, people with a family history of multiple myeloma are more likely to develop this condition.
  • Obesity: People who don’t maintain a healthy body weight have a higher risk of multiple myeloma.

Complications

Multiple myeloma is a condition that requires immediate medical attention. When left untreated for a long period of time, it can cause a number of complications, such as:

  • A weaker immune system which results in more frequent infections
  • Bone-related problems, including sharp pain, bone thinning, and weakness
  • Kidney problems
  • Low red blood cell count (anaemia)
  • A number of other blood problems

Diagnosis

Since there are no clear symptoms of myeloma at its early stages, it can be a little difficult to detect. In most cases, individuals are diagnosed with myeloma when a blood or urine test is performed to diagnose any other condition. When the report shows unusually high levels of protein in the body, it indicates the presence of multiple myeloma.

In such a scenario, the doctor may suggest further testing as part of the multiple myeloma diagnosis. Doctors choose a diagnostic test depending on several factors, such as:

  • The type of cancer suspected
  • Signs and symptoms experienced by an individual
  • Age
  • General health
  • Medical history

Treatment

Multiple myeloma is a condition that cannot be cured completely. However, regular treatments can be quite helpful in slowing down the growth of myeloma cells. As a result, symptoms like bone pain, fatigue, etc. also get better. In some cases, myeloma treatment can also make symptoms go away completely.

The treatment for multiple myeloma can vary from one person to another, depending on the severity of this condition. If the multiple myeloma is slow-growing and isn't causing any major health problems at the moment, some mild treatment can help. In other cases, there are several different ways to control the disease, such as:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunomodulators (drugs to target specific areas of the immune system)
  • Anaemia drugs
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Medicines for bone health improvement

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