Multiple myeloma, also known as Kahler’s disease, is a type of blood cancer. It is a cancer of plasma cells. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas. Plasma cells make the antibodies that help the body attack and kill germs. When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, this is called multiple myeloma. The plasma cells make an abnormal protein (antibody) known by several different names, including monoclonal immunoglobulin, monoclonal protein (M-protein), M-spike, or paraprotein.
According to American Cancer Society, normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system, which is made up of several types of cells that work together to fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes i.e lymph cells, are one of the main types of white blood cells in the immune system and include T cells and B cells. They are in many areas of the body, such as lymph nodes, the bone marrow, the intestines, and the bloodstream. When B cells respond to an infection, they mature and change into plasma cells.
In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts.
This can cause anemia (a shortage of red blood cells). People with anemia become weak and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low (called thrombocytopenia). This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising.Another condition that can develop is leukopenia (a shortage of normal white blood cells). This can lead to problems fighting infections. Bone and calcium problems.
Meanwhile, researchers have found that bone marrow-support tissues and bone cells produce growth factors that increase the growth of myeloma cells. In turn, the myeloma cells produce substances that cause bone cells to undergo changes that weaken the bones. These discoveries are helping researchers develop new drugs to block these growth factors, slow down the cancer, and reduce bone destruction.
Abnormal plasma cells cannot protect the body from infections. As mentioned before, normal plasma cells produce antibodies that attack germs. In multiple myeloma, the myeloma cells crowd out the normal plasma cells, so that antibodies to fight the infection can’t be made. The antibody made by the myeloma cells does not help fight infections. That’s because the myeloma cells are just many copies of the same plasma cell – all making copies of the same exact (or monoclonal) antibody.
Myeloma cells make an antibody that can harm the kidneys, leading to kidney damage and even kidney failure, says the society.
Bone and calcium problems
Myeloma cells also interfere with cells that help keep bones strong. Bones are constantly being remade to keep them strong.
Multiple Myeloma Symptoms
Weakness and fatigue
Weight loss and loss of appetite
Weakness or numbness in your arms and legs
Multiple Myeloma Treatment
Doctors grade multiple myeloma cases as high, intermediate, or standard risk, based on genes in the tumors. If you don’t have symptoms, your doctor may choose to watch you closely rather than start treatment right away. If you have symptoms, your doctor will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. It will aim to improve your quality of life by making you feel better and helping you get enough nutrition.
If your case is high-risk, you might consider joining a clinical trial for an existing or new treatment. Research is looking for more effective drugs. Chemotherapy, doctors usually give chemo drugs in mixtures.
(Inputs from WebMD)