What is multiple myeloma?
The fundamental cause of cancer is the abnormal multiplication of cells in our body. Cells of any part of our body can become cancerous and this disease may spread to other parts of the body as well.
When plasma cells become malignant, then this medical condition is called multiple myeloma. These cells reside in the bone marrow and play an important part in our immune system. They work together in fighting off the various infections and diseases that may affect our body. Lymphocytes or the lymph cells form an important part of the immune system. These cells are of two types- T cells and B cells.
When there is an infection, the B cells become plasma cells. When they go out of control, they are called a plasmacytoma which is a kind of tumor. If a patient has more than one plasmacytoma, then he is suffering from multiple myeloma.
How is multiple myeloma treated?
There are various kinds of multiple myeloma treatments available to the patient. These are:
â€¢ Chemotherapy and taking other drugs
â€¢ Using bisphosphonates- Myeloma cells can weaken, dissolve or even break the bones where they are lodged. Bisphosphonates help the bones stay strong by slowing down this process.
â€¢ Using radiation
â€¢ Taking recourse to surgery
â€¢ Stem cell transplant- In this process, the unhealthy and diseased blood cells are killed by drugs and radiation. These unhealthy cells are replaced by healthier blood cells to regenerate themselves.
â€¢ Plasmapheresis- This is a process that removes the myeloma protein from the blood. Often this protein causes the blood to thicken beyond acceptable levels. Blood thickening can cause interference in blood circulation.
Before opting for one of these treatments, please check with your doctor to determine the right treatment. Many insurance companies insist that you take a second opinion before getting treated for multiple myeloma.
Complementary and alternative approaches
Your doctor may not have mentioned some complementary and alternative methods of treating multiple myeloma. What are these?
â€¢ Special diets
Complementary methods are those that you can continue while you are following the advice of your doctor. Alternative methods are those that you take without following your doctor’s treatment. Please consult your doctor or your cancer care team in case you want to follow a complementary or alternative approach.
While some of these methods may relieve you of your multiple myeloma symptoms, others may prove to be dangerous.
Features of multiple myeloma
1. Low blood count- This happens because the overgrowth of plasma cells crowds out the healthier blood cells. As a result, there is a substantial dip in the red blood cells. Platelet count also comes down and there is heavy bleeding in case there is an injury or a bruise. White blood cell count also comes down significantly, as a result, the patient suffers from frequent infections.
2. Other characteristics include problems related to bones and calcium, infections, problems related to the kidneys, monoclonal gammopathy etc.