Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a complex name for a complex cancer. It is relatively rare, and often causes complications that need extra medical care. But even though multiple myeloma is a chronic condition, it can be treated with a blend of medical and emotional support—making it possible for you to live a near-normal, fulfilling life.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma starts in your bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside of your bones. Bone marrow makes cells that keep your body healthy. These include red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

One type of white blood cell found in bone marrow is a plasma cell. Plasma cells create antibodies that attack and kill germs.

Multiple myeloma occurs when your bone marrow produces abnormal plasma cells. These cells are unable to help fight infection. And they produce abnormal antibodies called “monoclonal proteins.” Monoclonal proteins can build up in your body and can cause organ damage or other problems.

Types of Multiple Myeloma

There are several types of multiple myeloma, distinguished by the type of monoclonal protein in your blood. They are sometimes broadly referred to as “heavy chain” and “light chain” myelomas. For example, if you have Kappa light chain myeloma, you have a light-chain variety of the disease.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

Symptoms of multiple myeloma may include:

  • Bone pain, especially in your back or hips
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent infections
  • Persistent constipation
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs

You may also have other health problems caused by the extra antibodies your body can’t use. These include:

  •  Low iron (anemia)
  • Kidney damage
  • Bone problems, including bone loss, bone fractures or spinal cord compression

Multiple Myeloma Treatment at Mercy

Mercy strives to offer cancer care that is both sophisticated and sensitive. We use the latest tools at our disposal to help you get better. But we also tend to your emotional and spiritual needs, throughout your treatments and beyond.

Your treatment plan will depend on several factors. This includes whether your multiple myeloma is slow-growing or aggressive. Your doctor may recommend you have one or more types of treatment, including:

  • Medication, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy or corticosteroids
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stem cell transplant (also known as a bone marrow transplant)

If you have complications caused by monoclonal protein build-up, you may need extra specialized therapies. Common problems and treatments include:

  • Dialysis for kidney failure
  • Medications for anemia or bone loss
  • Plasmapheresis to remove excessive antibodies from the blood

Let our experienced team focus on selecting the most effective and efficient treatments—so you can focus on getting well.

Clinical Trials for Multiple Myeloma

Clinical trials are another treatment option for patients interested in testing new therapies that are not yet widely available. Your care team can help you consider all of your options, including clinical trials offered by Mercy or research organizations like Cancer Research for the Ozarks. Your caregivers can also help you understand the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial.

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