Multiple myeloma or plasma cell myeloma is a type of cancer of the blood that affects plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that functions to produce antibodies. In initial stages of the condition, there are often no symptoms. The cause of multiple myeloma is still unknown. However, the risk factors include radiation, obesity, family history, and exposure to certain chemicals. Multiple myeloma occurs because the presence of abnormal plasma cells leads to the production of abnormal antibodies causing overly thick blood and kidney issues. The plasma cells can form a mass in the soft tissue or bone marrow known as plasmacytoma (singular) or multiple myeloma (plural). The diagnosis can be achieved using urine tests, blood tests, bone marrow biopsy, and medical imaging.
While multiple myeloma is treatable, it is incurable. The disease can be treated with chemotherapy, steroids, thalidomide, lenalidomide, bisphosphonates, stem cell transplant, and radiation therapy. In 2015, it has been estimated that multiple myeloma affected 488,000 individuals that resulted in 101,100 deaths globally. In the United States, it is estimated to affect 6.5 in every 100,000 individuals annually. The average age of onset is at 61 years old and it is seen mostly in men. With treatment, the five-year survival rate is estimated to be 49 percent.
Multiple Myeloma Symptom #1: Bone Pain
Bone pain refers to pain originating from a bone due to various diseases or conditions that can greatly affect the quality of life for patients. Bone pain is a type of deep somatic pain that is often described as dull.
Causes of bone pain include extensive physical stress, hyperparathyroidism, renal failure, osteoporosis, celiac disease, Lyme disease, osteomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis, and cancer. Pain is felt in the bone as the periosteal layer of bone tissue is pain sensitive. Bone pain in cancer occurs due to destruction of bone tissue.
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