Multiple myeloma, sometimes referred to as Kahler’s disease, is a kind of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells (B-cells). It occurs when healthy cells turn into abnormal cells. Plasma cells make antibodies that aid in fighting disease-causing germs in the body. When you have multiple myeloma, the cells proliferate in unexpected ways, letting immunoglobulin into your blood and bones. Over time, it builds up and causes damage to the body’s organs. Additionally, the B-cells crowd out regular blood cells in the bones and emit chemicals that activate other cells that destroy your bones. This creates a lytic lesion. Multiple myeloma is rare and mostly affects men. It affects approximately 7 individuals out of 100,000 people annually. It’s also important to note that the disease has no cure, but it can be managed. Its symptoms and related conditions can be treated as a way of managing it.
Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma manifests itself in several ways including:
- Hypercalcemia. This is a high level of calcium in the blood – it arises as a result of bone breakdown. Hypercalcemia may cause kidney damage, constipation, and drowsiness.
- Blood Clot. This includes bleeding gums, nosebleeds, and bruising caused by thickened blood, otherwise known as hyperviscosity.
- Fatigue. This symptom is commonly caused by anemia. Other risk factors, such as abnormal cytokine production can also result in fatigue.
- Fever and Infections. This is a result of the weak immunity that people with multiple myeloma have.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- The sensation of numbness in legs and arms.
- Weight loss.
- Mental confusion.
- Bone pain. The cells grow in the bone marrow. This in turn causes bone damage or thinning, sometimes referred to as osteoporosis.
Causes of Multiple Myeloma
The possible causes of multiple myeloma are quite unclear. However, researchers point out that several things can cause this kind of blood cancer. Some of them include:
- Gene Mutations - Some changes in chromosome and gene structures are linked with Kahler’s disease. For instance, research says that approximately half of individuals with this disorder don’t have chromosome 13. Additionally, parts of the chromosomes may be situated in the wrong location.
- Obesity - You are likely to get multiple myeloma if you suffer from obesity. This point has been arrived at with how obesity affects the behavior of certain hormones.
- Contact with Chemicals - If you are working in an industry, you probably know the effects of harmful chemicals. Benzene is one of the chemicals suspected to cause and increase the risk of Kahler’s disease. Also, coming in contact with certain fertilizers and pesticides e.g., Agent Orange, may increase the risk. Agent Orange has been found to contain the chemical TCDD. This chemical has been associated with several cancers.
- Family History - Multiple myeloma is a hereditary disease. If you had a relative or sibling with this disease, the chances of you getting it are higher.
Other than the aforementioned risk factors, other factors include gender, age, race, exposure to radiation, and other plasma cell diseases.
As said earlier, multiple myeloma has no cure. This means that its symptoms can only be managed to minimize their effects. For instance, if you have MGUS, you’ll not require treatment, however, close monitoring is key.
Some treatments used in the management of multiple myeloma symptoms include:
- Bone Marrow Transplant - This is a procedure aimed to replace your affected bone marrow with a healthy one. Before the transplant, blood-forming cells are gathered from blood. Then, you receive a high dose of chemotherapy to destroy the affected bone marrow. Finally, the cells are pervaded into your body and start rebuilding your bone marrow.
- Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is a treatment option that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. These drugs eliminate booming cells, including myeloma cells.
- Targeted Therapy - Targeted therapy focuses on a specific weakness present within the myeloma cells, thereby blocking abnormalities – causing cancer cells to die.
Since multiple myeloma may cause a number of complications, it may be wise to treat those conditions as well. Your doctor may recommend a given medication to help prevent infections like pneumonia and flu. Kidney complications can lead to kidney dialysis. Surgery and radiation therapy may help alleviate bone pain.
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