Multiple Myeloma - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

 By: Juliet Cohen
Multiple myeloma is also called is Plasma-cell myeloma. It is an incurable but treatable disease. Plasma-cell myeloma is a cancer in plasma cells. Plasma cells is a type of white blood cell and white blood cell is helpful to know about normal blood cells. Normal plasma cells are an important part of the immune system. Plasma cells usually make up less than 5 percent of the cells in your bone marrow. But if you have multiple myeloma, a group of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) multiplies, raising the percentage of plasma cells to more than 10 percent of the cells in your bone marrow. The result can be erosion of your bones. Signs and symptoms of the disease can vary from person to person. One of the most common symptoms is bone pain. A common sign is the presence of abnormal proteins in your blood or urine. These proteins - which are antibodies or parts of antibodies and called monoclonal, or M, proteins.

Multiple myeloma also interferes with the function of your bone marrow and immune system, which can lead to anemia and infection. Multiple myeloma may also cause problems with your kidneys. Myeloma can be asymptomatic or insidious. The disease can cause systemic ailments, including infections and renal failure, and local catastrophes, including pathologic fractures and spinal cord compression. Anemia can occur as myeloma cells replace oxygen-carrying red blood cells in your bone marrow, which may lead to another common symptom - fatigue. Other signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma may include unexplained bone fractures, repeated infections - such as pneumonia, bladder or kidney infection, or sinusitis, weakness or numbness in your legs and weight loss. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for this disease. It involves using medicines - taken orally as a pill or given through an intravenous (IV) injection - to kill myeloma cells.

Causes of Multiple Myeloma

Many causes of Multiple myeloma. The causes is devided four types. First is Genetic causes. Mayo clinic found disease in 8 siblings out of 440 patients; these 8 siblings had different heavy chains but the same light chains.Second is environmental or occupational causese exposures in the agriculture, food, and petrochemical industries. Long-term (>20 y) exposure to hair dyes has been tied to an excessive risk of developing myeloma. Third is multiple myeloma develops from a harmless condition. It is called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and last is Radiation.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

1. Weight loss.
2. Excessive thirst and urination.
3. Constipation.
4. Nausea.
5. Loss of appetite.
6. Mental confusion.

Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

1. Tandem autologous transplants have been proposed as a way of overcoming the incomplete response to a single transplant.

2. Using the patient's own (ie, autologous) bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells facilitates more intense antimyeloma therapy.

3. Initial therapy is aimed at treating symptoms and reducing the burden of disease. Commonly used induction regimens include dexamethasone with or without thalidomide, and VAD (vincristine, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and dexamethasone).

4. Use allogeneic (ie, from someone else) transplantation.

5. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for this disease. It involves using medicines - taken orally as a pill or given through an intravenous (IV) injection - to kill myeloma cells.

6. Velcade is a treatment for resistant forms of multiple myeloma. It's the first drug in a new class of medications called proteasome inhibitors.

7. Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy penetrating waves to damage myeloma cells and stop their growth. Radiation therapy may be used to target myeloma cells in a specific area.
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