Understanding the most common bone marrow cancer: Multiple Myeloma

Understanding the most common bone marrow cancer: Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma is one of the most common cancers that start in the bone marrow. It is also the second most common type of Blood Cancer after Leukemia.

However, the awareness about this disease still remains limited.

Up until a few years ago, Multiple Myeloma was considered incurable. Even today there is no conclusive evidence about its causes. But still with the latest advancements in medical technology, several treatment methods have evolved that have made it possible to significantly increase the life expectancy of Multiple Myeloma patients.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma begins in the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. Plasma cells play an important role in fighting infections and other diseases. They are responsible for producing antibodies to attack and kill germs. However, if the plasma cells become cancerous, they start producing abnormal antibodies.

When these malignant plasma cells grow out of control and form more than one tumor, the disease is called Multiple Myeloma.

Treatment options

While there is no definite cure for Multiple Myeloma, the effects of this condition can be minimized with proper treatment.  Discussing probable treatment options with the patient’s healthcare provider will be very helpful. Provided below are the best-known therapies and drugs which can prevent the worsening of Multiple Myeloma’s condition.

Drug Therapy–Prescription medications for this type of cancer comprises of two types. One therapy helps in alleviating symptoms and side-effects of the treatment along with managing certain complications like bone damage. The other therapy aids in controlling or depleting myeloma cells. Such medications are effective in stopping the development of myeloma cells present in bone marrow. They further aid in strengthening immune cells which then kill the cancer cells.

Then there are medications known as Proteasome Inhibitors which target particular enzymes known as proteasomes. Such drugs make the protein content vulnerable in the Myeloma cells by digesting them. Monoclonal antibodies aid in binding Myeloma cells and ensure their removal from the patient’s immune system. Several other advanced drugs are combined with either steroid medications or chemotherapy for lessening the cancer’s adverse effects.

Stem Cell Transplant–These transplants are often linked with high dosage of chemotherapy. This treatment provides the chance of decreasing Multiple Myeloma’s occurrence. It is important to note that chemotherapy in high dose, though beneficial, can also destroy the bone marrow’s vital blood-forming cells. With stem cell transplantation, replacing these important cells becomes easy.

Another crucial point is that stem cells are accumulated after almost four cycles of the Myeloma therapy. This aids in reducing the total number of Myeloma cells when combined with appropriate medication. Effective drugs further stimulate stem cell production which can be then used for successful transplants. Stem cell transplants are also categorized as following –

  • Autologous stem cells
  • Allogeneic stem cells

Surgery– Surgical procedures for Multiple Myeloma condition help in retaining mobility and function along with controlling pain. Such procedures become important as Myeloma cells grow rapidly and they destroy essential, bone-forming cells. These factors can result in increased risk of bone weakness and broken bones.

Medical specialists perform two major surgeries which are –

  • Kyphoplasty
  • Vertebroplasty

These operations are helpful in treating spinal fractures caused due to Myeloma. Specialized surgical processes aid in stabilizing the bone structure and also minimize structural damage. They further improve overall function of the body and relieve pain, as well.

Before opting for any of the treatment options, conducting an extensive research on Multiple Myeloma is crucial. Discussing the varied aspects of this condition with a medical specialist will help patients in making an informed decision. As mentioned before, this cancer is not entirely curable, but advances in medical research are taking place!

The options range from standard and high-dose of chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, steroids, oral and intravenous drugs. Such treatment approaches can be used alone and can also be combined with other commonly used anti-myeloma medications.

Effective treatment options like these increase the life-expectancy rate of patients. Once appropriate measures are taken, managing the symptoms of this cancer becomes feasible!

It is important to note that chemotherapy in high dose, though beneficial, can also destroy the bone marrow’s vital blood-forming cells. With stem cell transplantation, replacing these important cells becomes easy.

 

At Apollo Hospitals, we have the best oncologists in India to advice you the best treatment options available for you. Visit Ask Apollo to book an appointment with an oncologist!

 

 

Authored by: Team Apollo

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