What is Multiple Myeloma?
This type of Cancer impacts a type of white blood cells known as a plasma cell. These are typically involved in the recognition of exogenous bodily threats that may cause detriments to one’s health. For example, this may include foreign bacteria or viruses. Plasma cells also play a role in making antibodies that help reduce the rates of re-infection. This form of cancer is potentially dangerous in two ways. First, it causes these cells to produce abnormal proteins that impede their natural function and produce complications. Secondly, they can crowd and accumulate in blood marrow, impeding the production of healthy blood cells and other immune cells.
What is its cause?
A wide array of individual and environmental factors may potentially cause a genetic mutation leading to the transformation of healthy cells into cancerous ones. Although it is difficult to determine a specific trigger, with respect to Multiple Myeloma, a relatively benign condition known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) may act as a trigger. In the United States, MGUS is present in 3% of those above the age of 50. Other potential risk factors include:
What are its signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms outline below are not exclusive to multiple myeloma. As such, it is important to seek your doctor’s advice should the following symptoms present themselves:
How is diagnosis achieved?
Diagnosis is multi-faceted and can be facilitated through the following:
How is it treated?
Treatment options are varied and are determined on a patient-to-patient basis. Upon diagnosis, an individual may potentially be a candidate for one or multiple forms of the following:
Regular screening and blood work are key to detecting this cancer early. Oftentimes routine blood work may indicate the presence of protein markers potentially suggestive of Multiple Myeloma. Early detection significantly improves patient outcomes and quality of life.