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.
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.
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.