Though we attribute the low mortality rate to the progress in medical science, there are still some fatal diseases that are incurable, cancer being one of them. Cancer in any form is life-threatening, and there are chances of surviving this ordeal if cancer is detected in its earlier stages. One such condition that affects people who are 45 or older is multiple myeloma.
Multiple Myeloma is a type of blood cancer which starts in the bone marrow, the tissue inside our bones. This is where most blood cells including the plasma cells are produced, and due to some unknown factors, these cells can grow at an uncontrollable rate and outnumber the healthy cells in the bone marrow. When these cells keep building up, they eventually form a tumor. Multiple Myeloma indicates the presence of more than one tumor.
Diagnosing and treating multiple myeloma is possible only when the cancer is in its initial stages.
Multiple Myeloma can be diagnosed by the following methods-
- Urine Test: When the urine tests indicate the presence of M proteins in the urine, also known as Bence Jones proteins when they appear in the urine. The presence of these M proteins is indicative of Multiple Myeloma.
- Blood Tests: The easiest way to diagnose Multiple Myeloma is through blood tests. If the blood report reveals the presence of M proteins or beta-2 microglobulin, which are produced by myeloma cells in the blood, the individual is diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.
- Bone Marrow Examination: The doctor might ask the individual to get the bone marrow tested for the presence of myeloma cells. Tests such as Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) are conducted to analyze the myeloma cells in order to understand their genetic abnormalities.
Treating Multiple Myeloma
After deciphering the symptoms of Multiple Myeloma, and diagnosing the same, treating multiple myeloma is possible when it is in the initial stages. Following are the different methods for treating Multiple Myeloma.
- Targeted Therapy: As the name suggests, this therapy targets the myeloma cells. This form of treatment aims to focus on the particular abnormalities in the cancer cells that allow it to multiply uncontrollably and survive. It uses various targeted drugs such as Bortezomib or Ixazomib to stop the substance responsible for breaking down the proteins.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is one of the most-recommended ways for treating Multiple Myeloma. Chemotherapy is instrumental in killing fast-growing cancer cells. These drugs are administered directly through a vein in the arm or are given in the form of a pill. The common types of chemo administered in such cases are- Cyclophosphamide, Melphalan, Doxorubicin, etc.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are widely used in treating Multiple Myeloma. Corticosteroids are administered to the patient to regulate the immune system in order to control the inflammation in the body. These are quite effective in inhibiting the growth of the cancer cells.
- Stem Cell Transplant: Stem Cell Transplant has been hailed as one of the most effective methods of treating Multiple Myeloma. In this procedure, a machine is used to remove some stem cells from the patient’s body and is frozen and stored. In certain cases, the stem cells from a donor are used. After this, the patient is given a high dose of chemotherapy where all the cells, the cancerous and the healthy ones are destroyed. Then, the stored stem cell is injected into the body and is allowed to multiply and make healthy blood cells.