Multiple myeloma occurs when blood plasma cells grow and divide abnormally. This blood cancer produces plasmacytomas, or bone tumors. It is referred to as multiple because in most cases, several tumors will usually be found once diagnosed.
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 of every 132 people will develop multiple myeloma. This accounts for approximately 30,000 cases each year.
What are the Signs of Multiple Myeloma?
While there is no cure for multiple myeloma, early detection can improve the prognosis in patients. Thus, knowing the signs or symptoms of this blood cancer is key to early detection. The symptoms are:
- unexpected weight loss
- general weakness
- numbness in the legs
- weak legs
- frequent infections
- repeated illnesses
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- shortness of breath
In addition to these symptoms, patients often experience numerous medical conditions related to their blood cancer. These often include:
- Anemia or low red blood cell count caused by the crowding out of healthy red blood cells by the myeloma cancerous cells.
- Hypercalcemia which is high calcium levels in the blood. This is the reason for the increased thirst, nausea, constipation and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Kidney damage often occurs, which reduces normal kidney function. Hence the need for frequent urination.
- Bone thinning may occur in advanced multiple myeloma. This results in bone pain or even fractures.
- Because myeloma attacks the immune system, ability to fight infections is reduced. This leads to more and more serious infections.
How is Multiple Myeloma Diagnosed?
To diagnose multiple myeloma, your physician will initially order blood and urine tests. These will check your blood counts (CBC) or look for the levels of certain proteins. If the results of these tests indicate a blood cancer, a bone biopsy may be ordered, x-rays, MRI, CT scan, and/or PET scans. The results of these tests will confirm if the disease is multiple myeloma.
At Kymera, all of these tests can be peformed in-house at our lab and imaging department. This eliminates travel and waiting time for our patients. It also allows us to get quicker results and quicker results are always better when dealing with a blood cancer.
Who Are Most at Risk for Multiple Myeloma?
Although multiple myeloma can strike anyone at any time, the risk increases with age. In addition, males and African-Americans have a higher risk of developing this blood cancer. So too those with a history of MGUS, or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance.
MGUS is simply a condition in which some people have an abnormal protein, known as the M (monoclonal) protein in their blood. This does not generally cause problems, but about one percent of persons with this protein eventually develop multiple myeloma.
Kymera Treats Multiple Myeloma
Kymera Independent Physicians provides a range of medical services to our neighbors in Southeastern New Mexico. For more than 22 years, we have been on the forefront in fighting blood cancers like multiple myeloma. Residents of Artesia, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Roswell, and surrounding communities know they can trust their cancer treatments with Kymera.
Not only do we provide a better healthcare experience, we are also constantly striving to better understand blood and other cancers. In conjunction with cancer researchers worldwide, we seek ways to better fight these terrible diseases.
We would also like to encourage all to read September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. If you think you or a loved one may have multiple myeloma, the sooner you know the better the prognosis. Why not request an appointment now?