Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer of the bone marrow. In multiple myeloma, the white blood cells which are part of the plasma cells, grow uncontrollably. Normally white blood cells produce the antibodies that fight against the harmful antigens in our body. But in multiple myeloma, the excess of white blood cells produces antibodies without any control and this may lead to destruction of healthy cells in the bone marrow. The abnormal antibodies form in the body start to accumulate in the body and become the cause of damage to the organs. For example, the abnormal proteins formed in the bone marrow can damage the kidney. Sometimes, multiple myeloma does not grow aggressively and doctors advise to wait before starting any treatment. In this waiting period, the close monitoring and behavior of the cancer cells is observed. If the multiple myeloma is not treated when required, then it can cause many complications like infections, bone problems, damaged kidney function and blood cells problems. The prognosis of multiple myeloma usually depends on the condition of the patient, stage of the disease and response to the type of treatment. In advanced stages of multiple myeloma, a combination of treatment can be given to the patient to increase the better response of treatment towards cancer.
There are many options to treat multiple myeloma. These treatment options involve:
The chemotherapy drugs are used to kill or limit the growth of cancer cells. In multiple myeloma, different chemotherapy drugs are used at a time for better response. Some of these drugs are:
These drugs are used to limit the nutrition of cancer cells by attacking their environment in which the cancer cells grow. Some of these drugs are:
This treatment involves the use of the body's natural defense mechanism against the tumor growing cells. Some commonly drugs used for multiple myeloma are:
Healthy stem cells which are either collected from the patient or a donor, are infused to restore the bone marrow and promote the production of healthy blood cells. This treatment is used after the cancer cells are destroyed from other treatments.
Radiation therapy uses high energy rays to destroy the cancer cells. It may be employed to relieve bone pain or treat localized areas of bone destruction caused by multiple myeloma.
The supportive care treatment is used when the cancer is in the last stage and treatment is directed to improve the quality of life. This may include pain management, antibiotics to treat infections, medications to improve bone strength and blood transfusions.
Here are Some Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma
The first test performed when a bone cancer is suspected is usually an x-ray of the bone. On an x-ray, tumors show the irregular appearing or like a hole in the bone instead of the solid tumor.
MRI is used for a more detailed look at a bone abnormality. MRIs are usually able to determine if it is more likely to be a tumor, an infection, or another kind of deep damage to the bones. It can also show the bone marrow and the soft tissues around the cancer, including local blood arteries and nerves.
PET scans are useful in determining if bone cancer has spread to the lungs, other bones, or other parts of the body. It can also be used to see the success rate of a treatment or how well the body is responding to the treatment.
Several blood and urine tests are performed to find out specific markers that are associated with multiple myeloma. This may include: Immunoglobulin levels and Complete blood count etc.
The tissue cells extracted from the body either from a needle or by open surgery to test them under the laboratory. This will give the confirmed diagnosis of the presence of tumor cells in the bone.
In India, the treatment for multiple myeloma may cost from 4600-5000 USD. It may vary according to the procedure which has been selected for the treatment, hospital facilities, doctors’ experience, patients’ health and city.
Different treatments of multiple myeloma and their cost in India:
|Treatment Cost in India||Min in USD||Max in USD|
|Chemotherapy||300 USD||600 USD|
|Radiation therapy||3800 USD||5800 USD|
|Stem cell transplant||18000 USD||20000 USD|
Here is a list of symptoms associated with multiple myeloma:
However, these symptoms are not necessarily present in every individual suffering from multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma has various risk factors. Some of these are as follows:
The individuals who have been treated with powerful radiations before are more likely to develop bone cancer in the same site they were receiving the radiations. It may represent after many years to even decades. So people who have received radiation therapy should be screened after every 4-5 years.
The age group of 60-70 years are most likely to develop multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is mostly present in men. So, men are more prone to develop multiple myeloma than women of the same age.
Some of the drug class used in chemotherapy such as alkylating agents and anthracyclines are the risk factors to develop the bone cancer
MGUS is an abnormal protein in the blood. MGUS is a prerequisite condition for multiple myeloma. The individuals with MGUS have an increased risk of developing multiple myeloma.
Obesity and poor lifestyle may also increase the risk of multiple myeloma.
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