- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Multiple Myeloma Causes, Symptoms, Treatment Prognosis
What is Myeloma
Myeloma also referred to as multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells. In the hollowed out area in the marrow of the bone, you will find the plasma cells. Plasma cells are found in the blood; so many times this type of cancer is referred to as blood cancer.
Myeloma affects certain white blood cells called plasma cells. Both plasma and other white cells help protect the body through the immune system fighting infection and disease. These plasma cells have the job of producing antibodies.
There are many different types of plasma cells each fighting different bacteria and diseases. When cancer affects the plasma cells, the cells in actuality are being overproduced and are abnormal plasma cells called myeloma cells.
These cells will collect in the marrow of the bone or in the hard outer part of the bone creating a mass or tumor. The myeloma cells keep increasing weakening the bones, which in turn causes pain, and sometimes will fracture the bones.
The body cannot always fight infections and diseases because the myeloma cells stop the bone marrow from making normal plasma and white cells.
What Causes Myeloma?
Although no one is absolutely sure as to what the cause of myeloma is, there are some factors as follows:
- Age: 96% found in people over the age of 45 and in people over the age of 70 it is 75%.
- Genetic: If you have a close relative (parent, brother, sister) that has myeloma then you have a higher risk of developing it.
- Environmental factors
- Exposure to toxic chemicals including Agent Orange
- Exposure to metals, asbestos, radiation.
- Diet: Some studies show that if there is not enough fish or vegetables in someone's diet they may be at a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma.
- Certain Occupations: People that work in agriculture, the leather industry, cosmetology, and petroleum workers.
- Certain viruses
Myeloma or Multiple Myeloma is a global disease
Although many people have never heard of myeloma, globally there are one million people that have this type of cancer.
This blood cancer is the second most common.
Myeloma suppresses the immune system.
It is a chronic disease that can be controlled for many years with drug therapies.
There is a higher incidence in African Americans and less frequent among Asians.
Cases of multiple myeloma are being reported from first responders from the 9/11 attack.
Each year in the USA alone there are approximately 20,000 new cases of multiple myeloma diagnosed.
Have you ever heard of Myeloma or Multiple Myeloma before?
Description for Picture Above from dr Laughlin Dawes
"This 59-year-old patient presented with a left facial droop and a known history of multiple myeloma. A CT brain was performed looking for a cerebral cause. The brain appeared normal. Close inspection revealed a lytic lesion in the left temporal bone, and focused reconstructions of the petrous temporal bones confirmed a lytic lesion involving the mastoid segment of the facial nerve canal. Red arrows: lesion; green arrow: normal contralateral facial nerve canal. The lytic lesion was one of many in the skull and is consistent with a myeloma deposit."
Many times a person will not have any symptoms of myeloma in the early stages, and it won't be detected until they either go for blood work, a urine test, or fracture a bone.
- Pain in the bones especially the back or ribs.
- Exhaustion and fatigue.
- Frequent urination, thirst, and nausea.
- Frequent infections, cold sores, and fever.
- Weakness in the muscles.
- Kidney problems.
Prognosis for Myeloma or Any Type of Cancer
Your prognosis will be determined by the stage of your disease as well as many other contributing factors.
- How long you've had cancer before it was diagnosed.
- How healthy you are otherwise.
- What your age is.
- What type of treatment you have.
- How well you respond to different treatments.
Always keep in mind that if your doctor tells you that the prognosis for said cancer is five years, this doesn't mean that you won't live ten or more years. No one can really determine how long you will or will not live.
International Myeloma Foundation and Myeloma Canada \media Workshop on June 28, 2012, Amsterdam - Media and Webcast
MTN Medical News Today
I am not a licensed health care professional. I have tried to explain in layman's terms what myeloma is through my own research on the subject.
© 2012 Susan Zutautas