Multiple myeloma affects your blood, and with the primary cause unknown it can be difficult to prevent. If you have any symptoms of multiple myeloma, the board-certified oncology team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, in Flemington, New Jersey, can help. They’ve created successful treatment patterns offering excellent care and optimal results within this challenging patient population.
Multiple Myeloma FAQs
What is multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells in your blood. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that helps your body defend itself against infections by creating antibodies that identify and destroy germs.
When you have multiple myeloma, cancer cells build up in your bone marrow and push out your healthy blood cells. These cancer cells don’t produce helpful antibodies; instead, they make abnormal cells that trigger complications.
What are the symptoms of multiple myeloma?
The symptoms of multiple myeloma can vary, and in the earlier stages, you might not have any symptoms at all. As the condition progresses, you could start to experience:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Mental fog
- Frequent infections
- Weakness or numbness in your legs
- Excessive thirst
- Bone pain is often a problem when you have multiple myeloma, particularly in your spine or chest.
Inside your bones, the myeloma cells produce abnormal antibodies called monoclonal proteins (M proteins) that build up in your body and damage your kidneys. Multiple myeloma cells can also damage your bones, increasing your risk of fractures.
What causes multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma typically develops when you have a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Around 3% of people over 50 in the United States have MGUS, 1% of whom go on to develop cancer.
Your chances of having multiple myeloma increase when you have risk factors such as:
Most cases occur in people in their mid-60s or older.
Men are more likely to get multiple myeloma than women.
Black people are around twice as likely to have multiple myeloma than caucasian people.
If a close relative has multiple myeloma, your risk also increases.
The Hunterdon Hematology Oncology team can diagnose multiple myeloma with blood tests, which detect the abnormal proteins produced by the cancer cells.
How is multiple myeloma treated?
The Hunterdon Hematology Oncology team bases your treatment for multiple myeloma on the results of diagnostic tests, after classifying your condition on a scale of 1-3. Stage 1 is the least aggressive, while stage 3 is the most aggressive and could be affecting your bones and organs.
If you have smoldering multiple myeloma, where your condition isn’t causing any symptoms, you might not need treatment. Regular blood and urine tests are essential, though, to monitor the disease’s progress.
Treatments the Hunterdon Hematology Oncology team uses for multiple myeloma include:
- Radiation Therapy
- Personalized Targeted Therapy
- Corticosteroids to Control Inflammation
- Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant
Your cancer team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology selects the treatments that are most likely to be effective for you, achieving optimal results despite multiple myeloma being challenging to treat successfully.
There might also be an opportunity for you to take part in a clinical trial for new multiple myeloma treatments.
Find out more or schedule a consultation by calling Hunterdon Hematology Oncology today or book an appointment online.