Symptoms

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple myeloma is also known as Kahler’s disease, which is a malignant disorder of the plasma cells where they are uncontrollably created inside the bone marrow. The pathologically changed plasma cells tend to produce antibodies or only segmental parts of these – paraproteins. These antibodies are also called monoclonary proteins. Production of paraproteins prevents creation and excretion of other, regular antibodies which damages the patient’s immunological system, opening up doors for all kinds of infection. The growth of healthy blood cell creating cells inside the bone marrow is obstructed which causes a lack of healthy red and white blood cells. The consequence of this is exhaustion, weakness, headache and tendency towards infections.

Multiplication of myeloma cells inside the bone marrow leads to an improved effect of ostecloast. Consequence of this is a reduction of bone mass and other bone defects which can lead towards sudden bone collapses and general pains. During the process of bone degradation, calcium is extracted. This alone has a significant consequence on the overall health of the patient, causing severe damage to kidneys, heart and digestive system. Also, creation of an excessive number of paraproteins can cause an increase in blood protein levels. This can cause obstructions in the kidneys, damaging their function in the same time.

Generally speaking, one can suffer from multiple myeloma for years before finally realizing that there is a problem. Usually, symptoms we’ll be talking about here only happen a couple of years from the beginning of the illness.

Up until today, the cause and rhythm of this condition haven’t been fully discovered and explained.

Symptoms

In the first couple of months or years, the disease is completely asymptomatic. As it progresses, some non-specific symptoms may occur such as reduction of physical condition, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss etc. In an advanced stage of disease there are some more oblivious symptoms to be noticed.

Bone aches will happen slowly, starting with a fairly low degree of pain and gradually increasing. Sudden, sharp pain is typical for bone cracks in the spine, ribs and other long and thinner bones. A consequence of bone degradation is loss of height for a couple of centimeters, mostly affected by the loss of spine bone structure.

A high percentage of calcium in the blood which is caused by bone degradation will increase excretion of the calcium through urination and sweat, which may cause the patient to dehydrate. A high percentage of calcium can also cause vomiting and noxiousness which can further improves loss of body fluid.

As the disease advances, the leucocytes’ numbers further decrease, causing a higher probability to get infections. In about 25% of patients these infections come in intervals, being mostly of bacteria type. In early phases, respiratory system infections are very common, as well as infections of the urinary system.

With the loss of thrombocytes, tendency towards hemorrhage is increased. Typically, one will bleed out of the nose or experience a more intensive menstrual bleeding.

Pathological changes in the nervous system aren’t that common. Only in rare cases the patient may become paralyzed or lose some senses in the process.

Diagnosis

The whole purpose of diagnosis is to eliminate any doubts for tumors. In case this can be confirmed, therapy is individually formed, possibly followed by more precise diagnosis procedures. The disease can be confirmed in multiple ways. General pointers are disorders in the blood and urine tests, bone pain etc. These all need to be acknowledged and taken for further testing and analysis which is all needed in order to confirm multiple myeloma.

Your doctor needs to be introduced to any difficulties you might be having as well as a history of your disease. Details which may seem to be unimportant to you may be critical for the doctor to create the best treatment program for you. Other than blood and urine tests, CT, magnetic resonances and roentgen tests can also serve as valid and important tools in determining the stage of the disease by analyzing the bone structure.

All of these tests help to perform a proper diagnosis procedure which is ever so important for establishing a proper treatment regime for the future.

Treatment

Main purpose of every tumor therapy is to suppress the condition. With multiple myeloma, a permanent treatment is possible only with those patients who have a single limited area affected by it, as well as younger people who have been treated with bone marrow transplantation.

Besides these cases, multiple myeloma is considered to be untreatable by today’s standards. With this in mind, the goal of treatment for multiple myeloma is to extend the life duration of the patient and improve its quality.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses special medications and preparations which are preventing the tumor cell from growing. Contrary to the other types of malignant tumors, multiple myeloma doesn’t necessarily need to benefit from chemotherapy. Still, chemotherapy should be considered as an option if there are symptoms such as reduction of physical condition, loss of weight, bone aches etc.

Specific cytostatic preparations are particularly effective in treatment of multiple myeloma. In some cases, alkalizing substances are combined with cortisone preparations. Most common side effects of such therapy are nausea and vomiting. Further symptoms may include anemia, inflammation of the mucosa, loss of hair, damage done to the nervous system and an increase in body weight. Most of these side effects are happening only during chemotherapy.

Transplantation of stem cells

Transplantation of stem cells or bone marrow cells collected before the therapy is considered as a valid option of treatment. You need to consult your doctor about this option and discuss whether you can benefit from having a transplantation of your own stem cells or bone marrow cells from another person. This is usually combined with high dosages of chemotherapy, which does pose a certain degree of risk and can cause a wide assortment of symptoms of its own.

It’s best to find a gentle but effective therapy method which won’t take too much of your time while still providing you with some degree of efficiency in terms of suppressing the disease.

About the author

Rani Vyas

Rani Vyas

I'm a Medical Consultant Doctor with a keen interest in Medical bioinformatics and genuinely intriguing way of presenting boring medical knowledge in an enchanting and eye catching way.

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