Get Treatment For Multiple Myeloma

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Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Multiple Myeloma Treatment?

With over 50 years of experience in providing quality healthcare to the community of Los Angeles, our hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that is used regularly by highly trained medical professionals to treat cancers such as multiple myeloma. If you choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for the treatment of multiple myeloma, you will receive the healthcare you need in a warm and compassionate environment, as we place great emphasis on the comfort and wellbeing of our patients.

As a type of bone marrow cancer, multiple myeloma occurs in approximately 35,000 people in the United States every year. It is not a very common type of cancer. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue at the center of some bones that releases blood cells. The disease is referred to as multiple myeloma because cancer often affects more than one area of the body, such as the spine, skull, pelvis, and ribs.

Our blood is made up of white and red cells. The white blood cells produce antibodies that fight infection and diseases. One type of white blood cells, plasma cells, is found in the bone marrow. In multiple myeloma, one of the plasma cells becomes malignant and begins multiplying. As a consequence, certain antibodies are produced in too great amounts in the body. This leads to the growth of plasma cells interfering with the release of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets. Ultimately, people who struggle with multiple myeloma can become anemic, are more susceptible to infections, and tend to bleed easily.

Although multiple myeloma tends to progress at a rapid pace, people with this cancer can have a favorable outcome if their disease is found in the early stages and if they receive the most effective treatment to keep it under control. It is worthy of note that, if you do not experience distressful symptoms, you may not need treatment for multiple myeloma. Instead, your doctor will recommend active surveillance, which means that you will have to go to regular appointments to see whether your cancer has spread to nearby parts of the body.

However, the majority of people with multiple myeloma require treatment, as their disease is aggressive. The following are the most effective treatment approaches for multiple myeloma:

  • chemotherapy: this treatment entails the patient receiving one drug or a combination of multiple drugs that are meant to slow the pace at which multiple myeloma spreads and works by destroying malignant cells
  • radiotherapy: radiotherapy uses powerful energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons to kill malignant cells and may be given to a patient before or after they undergo a bone marrow transplant
  • bone marrow transplant: also known as a stem cell transplant, a bone marrow transplant is a procedure whose purpose is to replace the damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow, but before the patient undergoes the procedure, they will have to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy to destroy as much as possible of their diseased bone marrow
  • corticosteroids: this category of medication may prove to be effective for people with multiple myeloma, as it regulates the immune system to control inflammation in the body
  • immunotherapy: immunotherapy uses the immune system to fight diseases such as multiple myeloma by promoting the defense response of the immune system against malignant cells
  • targeted therapy: this treatment approach entails the patient receiving certain medications that focus on specific weaknesses present within malignant cells

There are 2 types of multiple myeloma:

  • smoldering multiple myeloma: also known as asymptomatic multiple myeloma and indolent multiple myeloma, this type of cancer is a condition between monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, a precancerous condition, and active multiple myeloma
  • active multiple myeloma: people who struggle with active multiple myeloma experience the symptoms of the disease and this cancer is also known as symptomatic multiple myeloma

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

It is important to know that there are people with multiple myeloma who do not experience any symptoms of this malignant disease, particularly if they struggle with smoldering multiple myeloma or if their cancer is in the early stages. Nevertheless, people who have symptoms usually experience the following:

  • fatigue and weakness
  • bleeding problems
  • recurring infections
  • loss of height
  • problems with the kidneys
  • severe bone pain, especially in the back
  • abrupt bone fractures, usually in the ribs, back, arms, or legs
  • anemia from having too little iron in the blood
  • too much calcium in the blood from the breakdown of the bones
  • confusion, vision difficulties, and headaches

Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma

The diagnostic process for multiple myeloma begins with the doctor asking you about the symptoms you are experiencing. You should provide your physician with as many details as you know during this part of the diagnostic process so that they can determine whether you may have multiple myeloma. If they suspect the presence of this cancer, they will subsequently order some of the following diagnostic tests and exams:

  • X-rays: this test uses small amounts of radiation to create images of the inside of your body, showing your bones to your doctor, which may be affected by multiple myeloma, but it is not the best test in this respect, as it does not provide your physician with very clear images of your skeletal system
  • MRI scan: undergoing this imaging test is a very effective way to determine the extent to which multiple myeloma has affected your bones, as it shows whether your bone marrow has been replaced by multiple myeloma cells or by plasmacytoma, a plasma cell tumor that grows in bone or soft tissue
  • CT scan: this is another useful imaging test that offers your doctor a detailed, cross-sectional view of your bones to help them determine the extent to which multiple myeloma has damaged your skeletal system
  • blood and urine tests: because multiple myeloma cells usually release the antibody monoclonal immunoglobulin, blood and urine tests are very useful in determining the extent to which your cancer has spread throughout your body, as well as in helping your doctor decide on the most effective treatment approach for you
  • bone marrow aspiration or biopsy: these 2 procedures are similar and are often performed at the same time, entailing a medical professional collecting a small sample of your bone marrow with the use of a thin, hollow needle, which will subsequently be examined by a pathologist to see whether there are multiple myeloma cells in your bone marrow

While the exact cause of multiple myeloma has not yet been discovered by medical researchers, some factors were found to increase the risk of developing this cancer, such as:

  • being over the age of 60, as the majority of people with multiple myeloma are elderly
  • having a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, a condition that often precedes the onset of multiple myeloma
  • being male, as men are more often diagnosed with multiple myeloma than women
  • race and ethnicity, as African-Americans are twice as likely to come to struggle with multiple myeloma than Caucasians
  • exposure to radiation or chemicals: people with a history of exposure to radiation or asbestos, benzene, pesticides, and other chemicals used in rubber manufacturing have a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma

Since medical professionals do not know what causes multiple myeloma, there is no known way you can avoid developing it. However, you can avoid one of the risk factors for this malignant disease, namely exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals by wearing adequate protective equipment when working with these dangerous agents.

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