What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that is seen developing in a type of white blood cell which is known as a plasma cell. Plasma is helpful in fighting infections through the production of beneficial antibodies that identify and destroy germs.
This cancer causes cancer cells to develop in the bone marrow, where the healthy blood cells are also affected eventually. This results in the production of abnormal proteins which can cause kidney problems, instead of making antibodies normally by the affected white blood cells in the bone marrow.
Treatment for multiple myeloma is advised when the patient can experience the signs and symptoms of this cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of Multiple Myeloma?
There are various signs and symptoms associated with multiple myeloma, and mostly none are visible in the early stages of the cancer.
However, as the cancer progresses it may exhibit certain symptoms, such as:
- Bone pain (spine or chest especially)
- Mental confusion/fogginess
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent infections
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
If a combination of several of these symptoms are experienced it is advisable to consult a doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and prompt treatment.
What are the risk factors that cause Multiple Myeloma?
Although the exact cause for the development of multiple myeloma is not yet known, there are certain risk factors that are known to increase the chances of the development of multiple myeloma, such as:
- Advancing Age – The risk of multiple myeloma is seen to be high as the age advances. It is mostly seen in people around 65 years of age on an average.
- Male – Men are at more risk of developing multiple myeloma than women.
- Race – African-origin people are at more risk of developing multiple myeloma than others.
What are the complications caused by Multiple Myeloma?
These are the various complications that can arise as a result multiple myeloma:
- Bone Problems – This cancer can affect the bones mainly, causing pain in the bones as well as leading to weakening of the bones and fractures.
- Frequent Infections – This cancer affects the body’s natural ability to fight infections in an adverse way.
- Anemia – As the cancerous myeloma cells start to grow more than the healthy normal blood cells in the bone marrow, it may cause anemia and other blood-related problems.
- Decreased Kidney Functions – This cancer is known to cause problems with the functioning of the kidneys, and even kidney failure at times. Increased level of calcium in the blood due to damaging (eroding) of bone by the multiple myeloma can affect the kidney’s ability to filter the waste from the blood. The abnormal protein production can also cause similar kidney problems.
How is Multiple Myeloma diagnosed?
Most cases of multiple myeloma are detected while having a blood test done for another condition. In some cases, multiple myeloma is detected based on the signs and symptoms being experienced by the patients.
The doctor will then advise any of these diagnostic tests to determine the presence of multiple myeloma:
- Blood tests – A blood test may help reveal the abnormal M proteins produced by the multiple myeloma cells. Another similar abnormal protein, beta-2-micro globulin – may also be detected as well as help determine the progress of the myeloma.
- Urine tests – Detailed analysis of the urine in a pathology lab may also show the presence of abnormal M proteins (Bence Jones proteins).
- Biopsy – The doctor may require removing a sample of the bone marrow for detailed analysis in a lab using a long and thin needle.
- Imaging tests – Bone problems are easier to detect with certain imaging tests, such as x-ray, MRI scan, CT scan or PET test.
How is Multiple Myeloma treated?
Treatment for multiple myeloma is advised only when the patient is experiencing the specific signs and symptoms associated with the disease.
The treatment for multiple myeloma is mainly focused on relieving the signs and symptoms being experienced by the patient due to the cancer, control the other complications, stabilize the patient’s condition and slow the advance of the cancer.
Treatment methods for multiple myeloma include:
Targeted medicinal drug treatment is based on specific abnormalities within the cancer cells which allow them to survive. These drugs are designed to block the action of the substance that causes abnormal production of M proteins in the body, which results in the cancerous cells being destroyed (killed). These medications are administered via intravenous methods.
This treatment method also uses medicinal drugs, but these are designed to boost and enhance the body’s immune system to fight the myeloma cancer. These oral medications help the immune system by increasing its ability to detect and destroy the cancerous cells .
This treatment method for multiple myeloma also uses medicinal drugs that are helpful in destroying the developing ability of the cancerous cells. These medications may be administered orally or intravenously.
These are helpful in regulating the immune system to control swelling in the body as well as fighting against myeloma cells. These are administered orally or intravenously.
Stem Cell Transplantation
This treatment procedure is aimed at replacing the diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow cells. A sample of the blood-forming stem cells is removed from the body before using chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous (myeloma) cells in the bone marrow completely. Then the healthy stem cells taken earlier are again injected into the body, where they start functioning by building healthy bone marrow again.
Radiation therapy is also used to treat multiple myeloma in some cases. This technique uses a high-energy beam of radiation (x-ray or proton, etc) to destroy the myeloma cells and halt their growth. This therapy is also effective in swiftly decreasing the myeloma cells in certain areas.
Other Possible Treatment Required
As multiple myeloma results in a large number of other complications as well, these require separate treatment. Such as:
- Kidney problems – Dialysis may be required if the multiple myeloma has severely affected the kidney.
- Bone ache – Surgery, radiation therapy or pain medications may be required to treat severe and chronic pain felt in the bones.
- Bone loss – Certain medications are prescribed that help in preventing further bone loss.
- Infections – Certain vaccines are administered to fight against specific infections, such as pneumonia and flu, etc.
- Anemia – In case of persistent anemia, the doctor may advise medicines that help increase the red blood cell count in the blood.
Why choose Travcure for Multiple Myeloma Treatment in India?
Travcure is the top leader in quality medical tourism services in India. It is connected to the world’s largest network of comprehensive multi-specialty healthcare facilities that is in India. This network consists of the best and most advanced multi-specialty and tertiary care facilities in all major cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, etc for added convenience, especially for the patients travelling from abroad for treatment in India. Travcure offers every patient with a unique and bespoke treatment package which ensures the best, most effective and highly affordable multiple myeloma treatment in India at the hands of the most experienced cancer specialists.