Myeloma is a relatively uncommon cancer in the U.S., accounting for less than 1 percent of all cancer diagnosis. It is classified as a bone cancer, along with leukemia and lymphoma.
General Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Each type of myeloma has specific symptoms that are unique, but there are patterns that appear in nearly all types that include:
- Broken bones from minor stress of injury
- Bone weakness
- Pain in the bones, especially back, hips, and skull
- Numbness and muscle weakness, especially in the legs
- Susceptibility to infection
- Extreme thirst and urination
- Dehydration and severe constipation
- Sharp abdominal pain
- Weakness, confusion, sudden drowsiness
If you have noticed something suspicious, visit your primary care doctor or one of our caring physicians throughout Central Kentucky. We’ll perform a thorough check-up and recommend any additional screenings, if needed.
To request a referral to one of our caring specialists, call 844.303.9355, or find a provider anytime online.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells found in the bone marrow. Plasma cells form an important part of the body’s immune system by helping your body fight infection, producing proteins called antibodies. With multiple myeloma, plasma cells grow out of control in the bone marrow and form tumors in the areas of solid bone. The growth of these bone tumors weakens the solid bones and also makes it harder for the bone marrow to make healthy blood cells and platelets.
While each type of myeloma has its own risk factors, there are some that have been seen in nearly every type:
- Hereditary factors / family history
- Myeloma is twice as common in African-Americans than in Caucasians, but the exact reason is unknown.
- Men are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than women.
- Radiation exposure
- Exposure to weed and insect killing chemicals
- Having other plasma cell diseases
- Less than 1 percent of cases occur in adults under 35. Most people diagnosed are over the age of 65.
There are currently no routine tests for myeloma and it is difficult to diagnose early. It is often not caught until advanced stages when the symptoms are severe. If you find that you are at risk, showing one or multiple symptoms, it is important to seek help from a medical professional. At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we have primary care physicians and specialists who can perform preliminary testing to determine your status.
If you find that you have myeloma, rest assured you have some of the Commonwealth’s best experts by your side. Our dedicated team—including board-certified surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists and more specialists—work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan. This may include one or a combination of:
Surgery may be performed to remove small single tumors, but it is rarely used as a form of treatment.
Chemotherapy is usually used to treat multiple myeloma. It is most often given to prevent complications of multiple myeloma such as bone fractures and kidney damage. Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells with medicines delivered in varied cycles through either an IV or a pill. Whenever possible, CHI Saint Joseph Health uses newer medications that help minimize the side effects of chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays to shrink or kill cancer cells. Radiation may also be used to help prevent recurrence of disease. These brief, painless treatments can be specifically directed at the part of the body where the cancer is located. Treatments are delivered by linear accelerators, where patients lie on a table in a specially designed room.
It may be used to relieve bone pain or treat a bone tumor caused by multiple myeloma.
CHI Saint Joseph Health uses the most advanced technology available to target the tumor with extreme precision. Treatments include 3D conformal therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric modulated radiation therapy (VMAT). Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and use of a hexapod table ensure treatments are focused directly on the target, while minimizing dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
Bone Marrow Transplants
In some cases, a bone marrow transplant (also called a stem cell transplant) is an option. The procedure is used to replace damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells, which are immature cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all of your blood cells. A bone marrow transplant replaces bone marrow that either is not working properly or has been destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation.
Throughout your journey, you’ll find a variety of cancer support services to meet your physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs. We’ll help you coordinate your care, answer any questions and provide extra comfort and support every step of the way.