Multiple Myeloma Symptoms, Causes, treatments

Stem Cell Transplant

It won’t work for everyone, but if your doctor thinks you’re a good fit for it, they may start with a stem cell transplant. They’ll use a machine to remove some of your stem cells, then freeze and store them. Or they may use stem cells taken from a donor.

Next, you get high-dose chemotherapy, sometimes with radiation, too. This will destroy almost all the cells in your bone marrow — the plasma cells that cause the disease as well as healthy ones.

After that, the saved or donated stem cells are put into your bloodstream. These special cells can replace the destroyed bone marrow and start making new, healthy blood. It may take several weeks to refresh all of your blood cells.

Stem cell transplantation often helps you live longer, but it doesn’t cure multiple myeloma, and it can cause serious complications. For example, it can make you more likely to get infections.

Bone Symptoms

Your doctor might suggest other treatments if your multiple myeloma causes painful bone damage.Bisphosphonates: This type of drug helps slow the process of breaking down bones. You can take these medicines as pills or get them through an IV needle. They include pamidronate (Aredia) and zoledronic acid.Be especially thorough with your brushing and flossing while you’re taking one. It’s rare, but bisphosphonates can damage your jaw. Dental work makes it more likely to happen.

Monoclonal antibodies: The medication denosumab (Xgeva) can help interrupt or even stop the cells that are breaking down the bone

Radiation therapy : The doctor will direct a beam from a machine to a bone or other affected body part. The beam kills plasma cells, which can ease your pain and strengthen weakened bones.

Taking Care of Yourself

To help you feel better while you get treatment:

  • Eat a healthy diet. A dietitian can help you choose the right foods, especially if you’re having trouble with certain foods because of your treatment.
  • Exercise. Stay active to improve your mood and energy level, and protect your bones.
  • Get plenty of rest. Take naps or breaks during the day to recoup your energy.
  • Take advantage of good days to do the things you enjoy most.
  • Ask for help when you need it, and seek out support groups to help you and your family manage this disease.

What to Expect

Multiple myeloma varies widely among people. Some will live for years with few symptoms. With others, the condition gets worse quickly. Identifying the forms of multiple myeloma is often challenging for doctors.

Doctors have systems that predict survival rates. The simplest and most common uses the blood levels of two substances: albumin and beta-2-microglobulin. A higher albumin level and a lower beta-2-microglobulin level suggest a better chance for longer survival.

Other systems use multiple lab or DNA tests in plasma cells.Knowing how aggressive your multiple myeloma is can help you and your doctor find the best plan for you.

Where to Find Support

To learn more about multiple myeloma, and to find support for you and your family, visit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s website.

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