Can you name all the components of your blood? Most people know their blood consists of multiple cell types, some of which are red while others are white. Yet there are many subtypes of each. Flowing through your vessels alongside platelets and other elements, the cells in your blood each serve a specific purpose.
White blood cells participate in keeping you healthy by warding off infections as part of your immune system. One type of blood cell, the plasma cell, develops in the bone marrow from another type called B lymphocytes whenever bacteria or viruses enter your body. You can thank your plasma cells for creating the antibodies that fight disease.
One type of cancer originating in plasma cells is called multiple myeloma. When plasma cells are cancerous, they can no longer produce the antibodies you need to alleviate infections. Instead, they produce abnormal proteins that can cause havoc in your body. This is why multiple myeloma can cause increasing symptoms as the cancer worsens even if you didn’t have any discernible symptoms at first.
Our team of expert oncologists at Arizona Center for Cancer Care is dedicated to monitoring multiple myeloma and providing state-of-the-art treatment as necessary. Our offices also conduct clinical trials, which may offer you the opportunity to test emerging therapies for your cancer. You can access superior multiple myeloma care at our offices in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Anthem, Peoria, Fountain Hills, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Sun City, Sun City West, Goodyear, and Tempe, Arizona.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the basic facts you should know about your multiple myeloma diagnosis and what to expect from treatment.
Like other cancers, multiple myeloma rarely causes symptoms in its earliest stages. If your multiple myeloma is asymptomatic, it’s possible you won’t need treatment quite yet. You might not even realize you have multiple myeloma until symptoms emerge.
The symptoms can vary, but some possibilities are:
Instead of assuming the worst, it’s always a good idea to consult a physician about ambiguous symptoms like these. Our experts can confirm or rule out a multiple myeloma diagnosis with blood tests, urinalysis, diagnostic imaging, or blood marrow biopsy.
Beyond the surface-level symptoms, multiple myeloma can cause a host of complications with detrimental implications for your health. As the cancer progresses, you can anticipate:
As we’ve established, your plasma cells play a key role in defending your body from infections. When they malfunction because of multiple myeloma, your body can’t defend itself as well anymore. Because plasma cells aren’t making the necessary antibodies, you begin to encounter more infections than usual.
Your kidneys are a critical part of your body’s waste filtration system. Plasma cells affected by multiple myeloma can produce abnormal proteins that damage your kidneys and can lead to kidney failure.
Multiple myeloma can affect specific blood cell counts. An abnormally low red blood cell count is called anemia, which is the likely source of the fatigue or tiredness you experience with multiple myeloma.
Myeloma interferes with the function of the cells inside your bone marrow that build up new bone (osteoblasts) and break down old bone (osteoclasts). As a result, your bones can break down faster than they can rebuild. This is why multiple myeloma tends to cause bone pain and can increase your risk for bone fractures.
You can trust Arizona Center for Cancer Care to give you the best possible prognosis for multiple myeloma. The team monitors your cancer closely to determine the best course of treatment at the right time. Standard cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy are often excellent options for treating myeloma. Clinical trials may also be a possibility if relevant trials are available and if you’re a good candidate.
In advanced cases, a bone marrow transplant may be a critical part of multiple myeloma treatment. During this complex treatment, your bone marrow is replaced with stem cells that develop into new, healthy marrow. The new bone marrow doesn’t produce the cancerous plasma cells characteristic of multiple myeloma.
On top of treatments that address the cancer at its source, your care team may recommend therapies to address or prevent common multiple myeloma complications. For example, you may need vaccines or boosters to protect you from serious infections.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for the care you need. Book an appointment online or over the phone at Arizona Center for Cancer Care to learn more about multiple myeloma today.