Multiple Myeloma – Causes and Treatment
Multiple Myeloma is a kind of cancer caused by plasma. The Human body has white cells called plasma which produce antibodies that help us fight infections, but when these plasma cells start multiplying at an abnormal pace, they pose a great threat. These plasma cells found in the bone marrow, when multiply excessively spill out of the marrow and release a protein called Immuno Globulin which damages human organs. It wreaks a havoc on bones and weakens them.
The plasma cells can also lead to the development of tumors which is known as Plasmaeytome. If a person has just one tumor, it is termed isolated Plasmacytoma, but if someone has more than one, it is called Multiple Myeloma. Myeloma virtually collapses the immune system of the body. No cure has been found for Myeloma but medicines and treatment tend to slow down its progress considerably.
Problems Due to Multiple Myeloma
Due to excess plasma cells, the normal cells which make blood are outnumbered as a result of which the blood count of a person goes down causing Anemia, where the white blood cells outnumber the red blood cells. Another problem that arises is known as Leucopenia which is due to low count of white blood cells, as a result of which the infection fighting capacity in the human body goes down.
Moreover, Multiple Myeloma also weakens the bones to such an extent that they break. This leads to fractures and due to this the calcium level in the blood goes up which is harmful for the human body. The Myeloma cells harm the kidneys in some cases, causing total kidney failure.
When a person has unbearable pain in the bones, weakness and fatigue or excessive weight loss along with a problem in the kidney, they should immediately go in for tests. Multiple Myeloma is generally diagnosed by blood tests. If a high level of calcium is found in the blood, or the red blood count is low, or Creatinine level is more than required, if protein level in blood is more and if urine too has protein then the chances of Myeloma are suspected.
A visit to the Doctor is necessary and tests which confirm the disease like SPEP (Serum protein electrophoresis) and IFE (immune electrophoresis) are required. If the results of these tests are positive then a biopsy needs to be conducted. If the biopsy too is positive then multiple myeloma is confirmed.
Though it is believed that multiple myeloma is not fully curable, the most common treatment that doctors opt for is chemotherapy which stops the growth of the abnormal cells or kills them. Another treatment for this is the Corticosteroids therapy. This is a steroid which attacks the tumor. Then there is targeted therapy which uses drugs that kill the abnormal cells and cause no harm to the normal cells.
A stem cell transplant where stem cells are replaced with healthy cells can also be done. The transplant restores the immune system of the body again. It is to be noted that the form of treatment depends on the area affected or the form of Multiple Myeloma.
No specific cause for the disease is yet known, but a curious fact is that it attacks males more than females. Research has shown that African – American men are more prone to this disease. This can be hereditary also.
Multiple Myeloma is not fully curable but life expectancy can be prolonged with treatment. It has been found that after the diagnosis of the disease, a person has a life of three to five years. During the final stages of the disease such strong drugs are given to the patient that he spends most of his time sleeping. The patient also loses control over the body and has no balance left. Experiments are still being done to discover a complete cure.