What is multiple myeloma?

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Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer involving the plasma cells of the blood.  Under normal conditions, plasma cells are responsible for the production of white blood cells that support the body’s immune system.  If the plasma cells grow abnormally and proliferate in the area where bone marrow is produced, it will cause problems with the immune system.  This is the most basic feature of multiple myeloma and with affectation to the immune system, patients will often suffer from other symptoms including the formation of bone lesions, rapid growth of cells called masses, and debilitating pain.

Cancer in any part of the body will mean that cells will multiply, grow, and proliferate uncontrollably.  They often spread out to adjacent or surrounding soft tissues resulting to more severe symptoms.  In the case of multiple myeloma, the plasma cells of the blood will undergo abnormal growth leading to various signs and symptoms.  Aside from the expected effect on the immune system, patients with multiple myeloma may also experience pain in the lower part of the ribs or at the back.  Pain in the bones may also be a sign of lesions underneath which could later lead to breaking.  It is also common for patients to get fatigued very easily and succumb to various infections.  Some will also have problems in their kidneys while others will lose so much weight.

Treatment of multiple myeloma starts with identifying the type and stage of the disease.  In terms of classification, this cancerous ailment may be in the form of monoclonalgammopathy, solitary plasmacytoma, symptomatic, or asymptomatic type.  There are also various stages of the disease which start from the initial stage with no symptoms present up to the third stage that involves affectation of multiple areas with very serious symptoms.  Actual treatment may be in the form of chemotherapy drugs or radiation.  In more serious cases, transplantation of the bone marrow may be necessary.

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