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Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month 2024: What is multiple myeloma? Expert shares insight

Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month educates people about the lesser-known types of blood cancer causing fatigue, bone pain, and kidney issues. Learn about diagnosis, treatment options, and recent advancements from an expert.

Written By: Rahul Pratyush New Delhi Published on: March 28, 2024 15:31 IST
multiple myeloma
Image Source : VECTEEZY What is multiple myeloma? Expert shares insight

Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month is celebrated in March every year to raise awareness about this type of blood cancer that develops in bones and other areas of the body. In a patient suffering from myeloma, the cancerous cells become so numerous in the bone marrow that they crowd out healthy blood cells, which results in health problems. In addition to this, myeloma cells also release large amounts of abnormal myeloma proteins, which can impair bodily functions (like kidney function). Myeloma cells can also weaken the bones, leading to bone pains, high calcium levels in blood and can even cause bone fractures with minimal or no trauma. 

According to Dr Shikhar Kumar, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, multiple myeloma is most commonly a disease of the elderly, with an average age at diagnosis being 65 years and above. It is also more common in males than females. Any person of this age experiencing symptoms such as easy fatigability, persistent lower back pain, frequent infections and fever or elevated creatinine levels in blood reports should be concerned and reach out to an oncologist to get evaluated. A bone marrow biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. 

Multiple myeloma is usually incurable in most patients, however, with the right treatment, patients achieve long-lasting remissions and a good quality of life. Younger and fit patients are treated with induction chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant. However, as most patients diagnosed with myeloma tend to be older and unfit for transplant, they are treated only with chemotherapy. The treatment lasts for several months after which the patients are kept on observation. Most patients tend to relapse after some time, after which they are treated with an alternative regimen. In recent years, several newer advances have rapidly changed the landscape of myeloma treatment, these include anti-CD38 targeted therapies, BCMA-CAR T cell immunotherapy and bispecific targeted antibody therapies.        

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