Causes and Management Myeloma Cancer


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A cancer developed from plasma cells in the bone marrow is known as Myeloma. It is also generally referred to as multiple myeloma. The plasma cells are a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow and are part of the immune system that assist in fighting infection. It becomes cancerous when abnormal plasma cells spread throughout the bone marrow so that there is not enough space to make enough normal blood cells.


The symptoms of myeloma are: abnormal blood count, nasal bleeding, difficulty in breathing, kidney related problems, excruciation pain in the bone, recurrent infections, and tiredness among others.


No particular cause has been attributed to this condition; however, some viral conditions like HIV, chemical (dioxins) and radiation have been linked to contribute to risk of developing myeloma.


This can be done through any of the following: Blood and urine tests to determine the amount and type of paraprotein in the blood which is an abnormal antibody that myeloma cells produce. Urine tests to check for the presence of Bence Jones protein, which is paraprotein in the urine.
X-rays: head, spine, ribs, hops, legs and arms to see if there is any bone damage caused by myeloma cells. Scans: a CT scan to see a part of the body in more detail, or to look for areas of bone damage that may not appear on an X-ray. An MRI scan to find myeloma in the bones and outside the bones. Bone marrow biopsy to examine cells from the marrow which is usually done with a local anaesthetic Cytogenetic tests to examine the changes in the chromosomes within the myeloma cells, which are different to the normal cells in the body.

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The treatment options are: Close and adequate monitoring including regular check-ups in the early-stage of myeloma Chemotherapy which be taken as tablets or injected though the vein aim to destroy cancer cells.
Thalidomide can be taken to block the blood supply to cancerous cells and to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack myeloma cells. Bortezomib is a drug that blocks the breakdown of protein within myeloma cells, causing them to stop growing and die; it may also be used as a treatment for myeloma.

Steroids (corticosteroids) can be used to modify the body’s immune system responses, relieve swelling and inflammation and actively kill myeloma cells.

Radiotherapy, the use of x-rays to kill or injure cancer cells, can be used to relieve some of the symptoms of multiple myeloma, such as bone pain.
Plasma exchange may be used if the level of paraprotein in the blood is very high and interfering with blood circulation. It is a way of removing some extra proteins in the blood.
Stem cell transplant involves a high dose of chemotherapy to destroy the bone marrow, followed by transplanted blood-forming stem cells to rescue the bone marrow and help restore the blood cell numbers. This is an intense form of treatment which is completed in several stages. The entire procedure can take several months to complete and it is not suitable for everyone.


Palliative treatment

Although it is most often used by people with advanced cancer, palliative treatment can be used at any stage of cancer treatment. It is intended to improve a person’s quality of life by alleviating the symptoms of cancer, without trying to cure the disease. It can include pain relief, and the management of other physical and emotional symptoms.

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