Multiple Myeloma - A Cancer of plasma cells

 

Multiple myeloma is a disorder in which cancer occurs to the plasma cells in the body. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cells, producing antibodies to fight against infections in the body. 

In the case of Multiple myeloma, the plasma cells grow abnormally in the bone marrow. They reproduce rapidly crowding out all the healthy white blood cells & red blood cells in our body. 

Like healthy plasma cells, these cancerous myeloma cells also produce abnormal antibodies called monoclonal proteins or M-proteins which adversely cause a lot of complications such as kidney damage, low blood count, Infections, and Bone/calcium problems.

Cause:

The main cause of multiple myeloma is still not known. Below are some of the risk factors that need to be considered to develop cancer cells in plasma.

  • Changes in DNA( gene mutations).

  • A history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) also causes Multiple myeloma in some cases not all.

  • Radiation exposure.

  • Overweight 

  • Over the age of 50 years 

  • Men are more likely to get this cancer compared to women.

  • Workers in the Petroleum industry also prone to this cancer 

Symptoms:

In the early stages of Multiple myeloma, we aren't able to notice any symptoms. Once cancer progresses then the symptoms will start to show as follows:

  • Bone pain - Bone fractures & injuries occur due to cancerous cell growth in bone marrow & bones. 

  • High calcium levels in the body due to bone leakages can cause nausea, extreme thirst, upset stomach, vomit, etc.

  • Kidney failure due to a high level of M protein in the body. 

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite

  • Constipation & Confusion due to increased calcium levels.

  • Frequent infections

  • Weakness or numbness in your arms and legs.

Treatment

As there is no cure for multiple myeloma, your doctor will suggest a treatment that can help to relieve the pain and other sufferings related to this cancer. In the early stages when there are no symptoms, your doctor will closely monitor them instead of treatment. 

Treatment is suggested only when the condition progresses resulting in some complications which are mentioned in the above symptoms.

The most common treatments are as follows:

Targeted therapy includes drugs like bortezomib (Velcade) and carfilzomib (Kyprolis) to stop the cancer cells growth & to destroy it.

Biological therapy means using pills like thalidomide (Thalomid), lenalidomide (Revlimid), or pomalidomide (Pomalyst) to boost the immune system.

Chemotherapy is high-dose drug therapy that kills the myeloma cells.

Radiation therapy is using strong radioactive beams to kill abnormal plasma cell tumors.

Corticosteroids are also used to destroy cancer cells. Some of the most common steroids used are prednisone and dexamethasone.

Stem cell transplant is used after treating the cancerous cells with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Then Healthy stem cells get transplanted in bone marrow from a donor.


You can find some effective drugs for the treatment of lymphoma by clicking on this link.


 




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