Multiple myeloma: Know the symptoms of end-stage bone marrow cancer; complementary care tips

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New Delhi: Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that originates in the bone marrow’s plasma cells, where these abnormal cells proliferate and can cause various complications throughout the body. Without timely detection and treatment, it can progress to advanced stages known as end-stage myeloma, resulting in potential organ impairment.

In an interaction with News9Live, Dr. Vinod Patil, MD, DM, Clinical Hematologist, Onco-Life Cancer Centre, Satara, spoke about the symptoms and aftercare tips for the same.

What are the symptoms of myeloma?

Fatigue: The cancerous myeloma cells multiply in bone marrow impacting the production of normal Red blood cells, causing anaemia causing fatigue.
Bone pain: Bone pain is often experienced due to the damage to the plasma cells. These cells cause weakening of bones, and bone pain. Hence, one will be prone to fractures, which increases pain further. Bone pain is felt in the back (spine), ribs, and hips.
Renal failure: The plasma cells secrete abnormal proteins, that set down in kidneys or damage kidneys causing kidney failure and the person may require dialysis.
Paralysis of legs: If the myeloma tumors compress the spinal cord then one can suffer from paralysis.
Various infections: One will be prone to severe pneumonia or urinary tract infection (UTI). Myeloma emphasises the importance of early detection for improved prognosis.

What are the aftercare tips for myeloma patients?

A comprehensive evaluation incorporating bone marrow aspiration, cytogenetic analysis using Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), urine examination for monoclonal protein and free light chains, as well as imaging PET or whole-body MRI to detect lesions, help with accurate diagnosis.

A multidisciplinary approach is required to manage this cancer and the treatment will vary from person to person. Patients’ age and comorbidities tend to impact the treatment decisions. Treatment of this cancer is induction therapy with 2-3 drugs followed by maintenance therapy interspersed with bone marrow transplant (BMT) for patients. Multiple myeloma is viewed more as a manageable chronic condition rather than a fatal disease. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is possible to give patients a new lease of life. If the patient is under 60 and fit, he/she should be planning for an autologous stem cell transplant. If one is above 60 years old, the treatment should be continued for at least 12 months under the doctor’s guidance.

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