Myeloma is a type of cancer in which abnormal cells destroy normal tissue. This results in extremely fragile bones and intense pain.
This condition, which is also known as Kahler’s disease, is common in adults between the ages of 50 and 70. More men than women suffer from the disease.
There are many kinds of myeloma. But the tumor is often grayish red and appears in the ribs, pelvic bones, and the bones of the skull.
“The main symptom is bone pain, which seems to worsen at night. Back pain is often present. Bone fractures may occur. Abnormal bleeding, difficulty in urination, anemia, a tired feeling, painful swelling on the ribs, and susceptibility to infections are all possible symptoms,” according to Marion Morra & Eve Potts in “Choices: Realistic Alternatives in Cancer Treatment.”
“Since the bone marrow is producing fewer oxygen-carrying red blood cells and disease-fighting white blood cells, myeloma patients are often anemic and susceptible to infections such as pneumonia. As the plasma cells act against the bone tissue, calcium is released sometimes in amounts exceeding the kidney’s capacity to dispose of it. The patient may become weak, nauseated, and disoriented,” they added.
To diagnose myeloma, the doctor may require x-ray studies to reveal destroyed bone parts. Blood and urine tests can detect abnormal proteins that indicate the presence of the disease.
Treatment of multiple myeloma depends on the extent of the disease. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often used to relieve symptoms and repair bone damage. Exercise and adequate fluid intake are important to prevent immobilization and calcium imbalance. Back braces may help keep the patient active.
“Radiation therapy may be used on specific parts of the back and neck to relieve pain and help repair bone damage. The tumor cells usually decrease in number at a rapid rate during the first few months of treatment, and the patient may go into remission. When a complete remission occurs, there is a complete return to a state of normal good health. The symptoms disappear, the physical findings become normal, and abnormal cells are no longer found in the bone marrow and blood,” Morra and Potts said.
Sometimes the remission is only partial, and one or more signs of myeloma may not disappear completely. Examination of the blood, urine, and bone marrow at regular intervals allows the doctor to follow the course of the disease and to select the proper treatment,” they concluded.