Acquaintance with the ailment
Multiple myeloma is blood cancer. Cancer develops in white blood cells known as plasma cells. This unrestrained growth results in harmful proteins with abnormal structure. Bone marrow is affected and healthy cells begin to die out. Usually the kidney is affected first though any part of the body could be affected.[toc]
Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Symptoms will not be noticeable in the early stages of the disease. Response to treatment is good in majority of the patients. Here are the signs of multiple myeloma.
- Excessive thirst
- Easily broken bones
- Excessive urination
- Weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Bone pain
Bone lesions brought about by weakened bones through the accumulation of plasma cells can be examined through X-rays. Low blood count is a typical symptom that leads to weakening of our immune system. Restlessness, change in urination frequency, loss of appetite and hypercalcemia confirm the presence of myeloma proteins.
MULTIPLE MYELOMA LIFE EXPECTANCY
Overall median survival rate when we use International Staging System is given below.
- Stage 1 – 62 months
- Stage 2 – 44 months
- Stage 3 – 29 months
Improvements in the diagnosis and treatment have lent greater chances for survival though reversion should be expected.
Multiple myeloma life expectancy remains statistically rigid but in the words of a 7 years and 10 months old survivor (he was given just 3 months at the time of the diagnosis), the patient’s ability to beat the odds can be broken into two – One the hand you have been dealt and two the care you have.
Severity of the disease
Testing for disease
Myeloma in many cases is not so severe as to be crippling. It is merely a mild form of cancer that languishes and teases but does not kill. They do not manifest any symptom for as long as 6 or even 12 years. However, having indicators that are negative prognostic could make the prognosis definitely dull. FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) test along with related genetic tests will be needed to understand genetic abnormalities. Usual tests include the following:
- Imaging tests
- Bone marrow examination
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
Imaging tests include X-rays. Blood tests can show the proliferation of M-proteins produced by myeloma as beta-2-microglobulin. Additional clues are obtained from uric acid and calcium levels, examination of blood cell count and kidney function. Urine tests show Bence-Jones proteins, a form of M-proteins. Bone marrow is drawn from your bones with a long and thin needle for examination.
Risk category assigning
Once the testing is finished, the examining physician does an assignment. This will typify the risk and stage category for the disease. Stage 1 will indicate a less dominant form while Stage 3 indicates aggressive variation of the disease. In its aggressive form, the ailment could affect organs such as kidneys in addition to bone.
Quality of care
Having medical insurance in the form of Medicare of Medicaid helps overcome financial constraints. For those who do not have this, Affordable Care Act is an option. Gather a support network of friends and colleagues around you. Learn all methods needed to help you make decisions for every stage of the treatment. Space your schedule so that you have enough time and your schedule is not too rigorous.
Treatment methods used
Treatment for this affliction is usually one or all of the given methods.
- Stem cell transplant
In normal course of treating with stem cell transplant, chemotherapy forms the first step. This is because chemotherapy destroys fast growing cells, which include myeloma cells. This is administered in pill form or as an injection in your arm.
A combination of biological drugs and corticosteroids are deployed. The former uses immune system to fight by augmenting cells of the immune system and killing cancer cells. Common drugs include lenalidomide and thalidomide. Regulation of the immune system is done through corticosteroids such as dexamethasone and prednisone.
Radiation therapy is used when the patient develops an agglomeration of myeloma cells in a particular region in the form of lumps or tumor on the bone. Energy beams such as X-rays will focus on these collections of cells and destroy them immediately. In stem cell transplantation, your bone marrow that is ridden with myeloma cells will be removed and then replaced by healthy bone marrow.
There is every chance of recurrence of this cancer. Full recovery though known is extremely rare. Relapse occurs within months of giving treatment.
Never give up
National Cancer Institute publishes the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results data. The data for multiple myeloma puts life expectancy at four years. This has been the case for the last three years. However, often patients survive these odds and last for 10 or even 20 years. The statistical survival rate for five year periods beginning from 1975 (26%) to 2006 (45%) show remarkable improvement.