Multiple myeloma is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Oral corticosteroids are also recommended as they improve the symptoms of this type of cancer.
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer, in which there is indiscriminate multiplication of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. These plasma cells are formed in the bone marrow, the fatty tissue located inside the hollow structure of the bones. As the disease advances, tumors develop in the bone marrow and cause pain. Bone pain accompanied by formation of bone lesions and elevated calcium levels are some of the common symptoms of this form of cancer.
Timely treatment can play a very important role to prevent this cancer from reaching the usual fatal stage. Treatment options are discussed below:
Chemotherapy: This is a standard treatment for cancer patients in which oral medications are given to kill the cancer cells. This form of treatment is given for a stipulated period and then stopped to check the body’s response to drugs. Chemotherapy does help to regulate the production of plasma cells. However, treatment may begin again if the cancer recurs.
Radiation Therapy: This treatment method makes use of high energy rays to destroy the plasma cells. Specific areas of the body showing tumors are bombarded with high energy rays. This treatment method helps to prevent the cancerous growth from spreading to other parts of the body. Usually, a particular area of the bone is targeted as the cancer originates from the bone marrow. According to reports, radiation therapy when conducted properly can help to improve the life expectancy of people affected with this medical condition.
Corticosteroids: This plasma cell disorder can also be treated with corticosteroids. These medicines are to be taken orally as prescribed. Corticosteroids (prednisone and dexamethasone) help to relieve swelling and pain associated with cancer.
Other Medications: There are quite a few oral medicines that have been approved to treat this cancer. Some of them are Bortezonib, Thalidomide and Lenalidomide. Studies show that these drugs have been very effective to improve the quality of life in patients affected with this cancer. The reason being progressive multiple myeloma responds quite well to these anti-cancer drugs.
Stem Cell Transplantation: Another way to manage this form of cancer developed in the bone marrow is to undergo a stem cell transplant. As we all know, stem cells in our body have the unique ability to multiply quickly and increase in number in a short span of time. They later develop into specialized cells and perform different functions. It is this property of stem cells that is used to treat various types of cancer. The procedure of stem cell transplantation involves taking healthy stem cells from the donor and then giving them to the patient.
To be honest, this treatment method is given before administering large doses of chemotherapy drugs. This is because chemotherapy medications cannot distinguish between healthy and cancer cells. Hence, these drugs also destroy healthy cells and so to avoid substantial reduction in the number of healthy cells, the patient is advised to undergo stem cell transplantation prior to taking chemotherapy medicines in high doses.
Smoldering Multiple Myeloma (SMM) Treatment
SMM is not a worrisome condition as the cancer is not active enough to cause any symptoms. Although there is presence of cancerous growth in the bone marrow, it is negligible. Depending upon individual health, it may take months or even years for SMM to develop into a multiple myeloma. It doesn’t require any treatment but once SMM is detected, the person’s health is strictly monitored. The doctor will perform blood and urine tests at regular intervals to check whether the disease has progressed to multiple myeloma.
As chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment, healthy red blood cells are also destroyed. This can cause fatigue, anemia as well as impair the immune system. Other side effects include hair loss, gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, nausea, and vomiting. On the other hand, in stem cell transplantation there is a possibility that the stem cells of the donor upon entering the patient’s body may actually become a nuisance and cause chronic health problems. Patient taking corticosteroids may suffer from indigestion and sleeping disorders.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.