Health and Fitness

Signs of Multiple Myeloma Before it Starts

Overview about Multiple myeloma

A multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell, plasma cell. Healthy plasma cells are essential in helping you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs in your body. In the case of multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and mass healthy blood cells. Moreover, they produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications.

The treatment for multiple myeloma depends on the condition of cancer. If the multiple myeloma is slow-growing and doesn’t show any signs and symptoms, it may require close monitoring instead of immediate treatment. Whereas there exist several options in the market to help control the disease.

Here are some of the symptoms that can be looked at to identify the case of multiple myeloma: 

Whereas, the signs and symptoms may vary and, early in the disease, there may be none. They can include:

  • Bone pain, especially in your spine or chest
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental fogginess or confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Frequent infections
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weakness or numbness in your legs
  • Weight loss

Risk factors associated with cancer: 

The risk factors associated with cancer may vary but these factors may increase your risk of multiple myeloma include:

  • Increasing age: Most people diagnosed with Multiple myeloma are in their mid-60s which says that your risk of multiple myeloma increases as you age. 
  • Men more than women: Studies show that men are more likely to develop the disease than are women. Not just this, it is shown that black people are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than are people of other races.
  • Family history: If your family member has multiple myeloma, you have an increased risk of the disease.
  • Personal history of a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS): Multiple myeloma almost always starts as MGUS. 

Well, it’s very important to understand the complications associated with multiple myeloma: 

Complications of myeloma include:

  • Frequent infections: In the case of Multiple myeloma, cells inhibit your body’s ability to fight infections. Therefore, you’re prone to catch frequent infections in your body as your fighting armor is down! 
  • Bone problems: Bone Problems are very frequent!  Cancer can also affect your bones, leading to bone pain, thinning bones, and broken bones.
  • Reduced kidney function: Multiple myeloma may also cause kidney function problems, including kidney failure.
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia): Multiple myeloma can also cause anemia and other blood problems.


Now, let’s understand about Multiple myeloma stages in detail: 

Staging is a way to describe where a cancer is located, where it has spread across your body, or whether it is affecting other parts of the body or not. Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out cancer’s stage. Knowing the stage is extremely essential as it helps the doctor to identify and recommend what kind of treatment is best, and a patient’s chance of recovery. 

There are different stages for different types of cancer.

For multiple myeloma, a patient is required to identify whether they’re experiencing any symptoms. 

These cases can be classified into 2 categories: 

  • Asymptomatic: This means the person does not have symptoms/signs of the disease. In this case, patients are generally watched closely without specific treatment. Whereas therapies may be offered to stop the disease from growing/spreading. This is called active surveillance for smoldering myeloma. 
  • Symptomatic: In this condition, the patients show symptoms/signs of the disease. Patients with symptoms need treatment.

The symptoms related to cancer are described with the mnemonic acronym “CRAB,”: 

  • Calcium levels are increased, known as hypercalcemia. 
  • Renal/kidney problems: (creatinine level higher than 173 mmol/L)
  • Anemia: Low hemoglobin level (2 g/dL below the lower limit of normal, or a hemoglobin level that is less than 10 g/dL)
  • Bone pain/lesions, including:
  • Lytic lesions (areas of bone damage)
  • Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
  • Compression fracture of the spine

Coming to the Revised International Staging System, used more commonly to classify multiple myeloma, the system has identified 3 stages:

Stage I: All of the following apply:

  • β2-M less than 3.5 mg/L
  • Serum albumin of 3.5 g/dL or more
  • Normal LDH
  • No high-risk chromosome changes in myeloma cells were found by the FISH test

Stage II: Not stage I or stage III.

Stage III: β2-M is more than 5.5 mg/L, plus one of the following:

  • Myeloma cells have high-risk chromosome changes found by the FISH test
  • High LDH

R-ISS is commonly used to predict prognosis and higher blood levels of LDH indicate a poorer prognosis.

Here’s an overview that you need to know about multiple myeloma. Learn more about it and talk to your doctor if you see any symptoms.

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