What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma, also known as Kahler’s disease, is a type of blood cancer. There’s no cure, but treatments can slow its spread and sometimes make symptoms go away. A type of white blood corpuscle called a plasmacyte makes antibodies that fight infections in your body. When you have myeloma, these cells multiply in the incorrect way. They let an excessive amount of protein (called immunoglobulin) into your bones and blood. It builds up throughout your body and damages your organs.
The plasma cells displace regular blood cells in your bones. They also send chemicals that trigger other cells to eat away at your bones. The weak areas that this creates in your bones are called lytic lesions.As myeloma gets worse, the plasma cells spill over of your bone marrow and spread. This causes more organ damage.
Causes and Risk Factors
Experts aren’t sure what causes multiple myeloma. But you’re more likely to get it if:
- You’re older than 65
- You’re male
- You’re African American
- You have a family member with it
- You’re overweight or obese
- You’ve been exposed to radiation
- You’ve had contact chemically utilized in rubber manufacturing, woodworking, or firefighting; or in herbicides
Causes and Risk Factors
Early on, you might not notice any symptoms. But over time, you may have:
- Bone pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Upset stomach
- Frequent infections
- Severe thirst
- Weakness or numbness in your arms and legs
Your doctor may suspect myeloma if you've got a biopsy for something else and it shows:
- Too much calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia)Too few red blood cells (anaemia)
- Kidney problems
- High total protein levels in your blood, but low levels of 1 called albumin (your doctor may say you've got a "globulin gap")
To confirm a diagnosis, you would possibly have blood tests including:
- A complete blood count (CBC): It measures the different kinds of cells in your blood.
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine:These check how well your kidneys are working.
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