HomeMultiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma

Immune cells play an important part in our bodies' defence against external illnesses. The cells are referred to as white blood cells. Plasma cells, a kind of white blood cell, are essential in combating infections and producing proteins known as antibodies, which aid in the identification of pathogens.

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a malignancy that begins in plasma cells. Cancerous plasma cells congregate in the bone marrow. As a result, healthy blood cells are affected.

Cancerous plasma cells do not generate healthy antibodies; instead, they initiate the synthesis of an aberrant protein, which causes a slew of problems.

What causes multiple myeloma?

The mutation that occurs in our DNA is the primary cause of multiple myeloma. Everything that happens in our bodies is governed by DNA. Any alteration or mutation can disturb this normal behaviour and contribute to the development of cancer cells.

The part of the DNA or the genes that are responsible for controlling the growth of cells is known as oncogenes, and the genes that slow down the growth are known as tumour suppressor genes.

During cancer, the oncogenes are turned on and the tumour suppressor genes are turned off. This leads to excessive cellular growth.

What are the symptoms of multiple myeloma?

Signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma varies and, early in the disease, there may not be any.

When signs and symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Bone pain, especially in your back
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental fogginess or confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness or numbness in your legs
  • Excessive thirst

Complications

Complications of multiple myeloma include:

  • Frequent infections: Myeloma cells inhibit your body's ability to fight infections.
  • Bone problems: Multiple myeloma can also affect your bones, leading to bone pain, thinning bones and fractures.
  • Reduced kidney function: Multiple myeloma may cause problems with kidney function, including kidney failure.
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia): As myeloma cells crowd out normal blood cells, multiple myeloma can also cause anemia

What are some common risk factors for multiple myeloma?

There are certain risk factors that increase the chance of a person suffering from multiple myeloma:

  • Advancing age is one of the major factors that increase the risk of multiple myeloma. Older people are more prone to developing this cancer.
  • Unhealthy lifestyles such as obesity and sedentary lifestyles also impact the chances
  • The family history of multiple myeloma: A small percentage of people inherit this condition from a family member. 
  • Suffering from plasma cell disorders is another important risk factor for developing multiple myeloma. The chance of getting this malignancy is increased by conditions such as monoclonal gammopathy and solitary plasmacytoma.

How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?

The diagnosis of multiple myeloma includes the following tests:

  • Blood test: A blood test helps in analysing the abnormal protein that is formed by cancerous myeloma cells. Two abnormal proteins, mainly M protein and Beta-2-microglobulins, are detected in blood and can indicate cancer.
  • Urine tests: urine tests also indicate the presence of M protein and can help in diagnosis.
  • Bone marrow examination: In the presence of multiple myeloma is detected by analysing a tiny sample of bone marrow. This can aid in determining whether a genetic mutation is present that is causing cancer.
  • Multiple imaging tests: Scans like X-ray, MRI, CT, and PET scan help in detecting the advancement and problems related to multiple myeloma.

The diagnosis also aids in identifying the stage and type of cancer that you have. Multiple myeloma is classified into three severity levels, with stage one being the least severe and stage three being the most severe.

What are the three stages of multiple myeloma?

The categorization used in multiple myeloma staging is based on an international staging system. Based on the quantity of serum albumin present and the level of Beta 2-M, there are three stages. Beta 2-M is an abbreviation for serum Beta 2-Microglobulin, which is found on cells as a marker protein.

  • Stage 1: Beta 2-M levels are less than 3.5 mg per litre and serum albumin levels are 3.5 mg per deciliter or higher.
  • Stage 2: The Beta 2-M level is between 3.5 and 5.5 mg per litre, while the albumin level is less than 3.5 mg per decilitre.
  • Stage 3: The Beta 2-M concentration is greater than 5.5 mg per litre.

Recurrent myeloma occurs when myeloma returns after being under control for a period of time.

What are the treatment options available?

There are numerous treatment options available for multiple myeloma:

  • Chemotherapy makes use of strong medications to kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy is also used to destroy the diseased bone marrow during the bone marrow transplant.
  • Targeted therapy is done to target specific proteins present in cancer cells.
  • Bone marrow transplant: To replace the diseased bone marrow, a bone marrow transplant is performed. The diseased bone marrow is destroyed with powerful chemotherapy drugs, and new blood-forming cells are injected into the body, where they produce the new bone marrow.
  • Immunotherapy is also used where the body's own immune system is used to fight cancer.
  • Radiation therapy makes use of high radiation like X rays to destroy cancer cells.

Treatment choices for multiple myeloma are determined by the stage of the malignancy, the patient's overall health, and his or her age. A consultation with an expert oncologist, such as Doctor Saphalta Baghmar, is essential for obtaining an accurate diagnosis and a personalised treatment plan. Dr Saphalta is one of the top cancer treatment doctors in Delhi NCR, with many years of expertise in medical oncology.

1. What is stage 1 multiple myeloma?

Stage 1 is the least advanced stage of multiple myeloma. This condition affects the plasma cells which form the liquid part of the blood and take part in the formation of the white blood cells. In the first stage, the myeloma cells, or the cancerous plasma cells are fewer in number and often not widespread. The outlook for the cases of multiple myeloma diagnosed at this stage is significantly positive for the most part. However, due to the lack of noticeable symptoms, early diagnosis is rare.

2. Where does myeloma spread to first?

Myeloma cells, or the cancerous plasma cells, start accumulating in the bone marrow first. In most cases, they spread through the bone marrow to the bones in different parts of the body including the spine, ribs, hips, shoulders, and others. The cancer may spread from the bones to other organs or lymph nodes in certain cases.

3. Is multiple myeloma a tumor?

No, the cancerous cells in multiple myeloma do not form tumor-like structures. Instead, they make abnormal depositions in the bone marrow and spread along the bones. Also, the cancerous plasma cells form paraproteins which are found in the blood of cancer patients. Therefore, while there is no tumor formation or the growth of a cell mass, multiple myeloma can metastasize to other parts and form an accumulation of the infected cells.

4. How is multiple myeloma confirmed?

A case of multiple myeloma is confirmed after a bone marrow biopsy. If you experience the symptoms of multiple myeloma like pain in the bones, constant fatigue, nausea, and constipation, your doctor might perform some tests first. People with this disease also have high levels of calcium and protein in their blood or anemia. If your doctor suspects a case of multiple myeloma, they might run some tests and prescribe a biopsy. The procedure simply requires the doctor to take a sample of your bone marrow using a needle and test it for any cancerous cells.



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