March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month
Multiple Myeloma- Cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow (spongy tissue inside bones). The cancer begins when healthy plasma cells change and grow uncontrollably.
Plasma cells-part of the bodies immune system that produce antibodies that help fight infection.
Myeloma cells can produce antibodies but are unable to produce healthy, functioning antibodies. The cells instead make monoclonal protein or m protein which can build up in blood and urine which causes damage to the kidneys and other organs. Monoclonal protein often causes structural bone damage resulting in painful fractures or bone breaks. About 90% of people have multiple bone lesions when they are diagnosed, thus “multiple” myeloma.
Types of Multiple Myeloma
Solitary Plasmacytoma- Mass of myeloma cells that involve only one site in the bone or other organs. The most common site is the upper respiratory tract including the nose and throat.
Extramedullary Plasmacytoma- Myeloma that started outside the bone marrow in locations such as lymph glands, sinuses, throat, liver and under the skin.
Signs & Symptoms
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Bone Pain- back and ribs are the most common site of bone pain although any bone can be affected. Pain can be worse with movement and at night
- Pain, numbness and weakness
- Kidney damage or failure may occur when M protein produced by myeloma cells clog the kidney filter
- Hypercalcemia- a high level of calcium in the blood that can occur as a result of bone breakdown
- Weight loss, nausea thirst, muscle weakness and mental confusion symptoms related to kidney failure, hypercalcemia or other imbalances in blood chemicals
- Fever and infections, especially upper respiratory tract and lungs
- Blood clots, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, bruising and hazy vision caused by hyperviscosity, thickened blood or low platelets
There is no known way to prevent Multiple Myeloma.
Also if you haven’t already please read these previous posts!