Myeloma 101 – What is Myeloma????
Multiple myeloma, or myeloma, is a cancer of the blood, specifically plasma cells which are found in bone marrow. The word ‘multiple’ is used because as these abnormal plasma cells invade the bone, many areas are affected. Plasma cells are one type of white blood cell that produces antibodies to help fight infections. When the abnormal plasma cells divide uncontrollably, they eventually crowd out healthy blood cells creating complications such as bone pain, fractures, and increased susceptibility to infections, anemia, or kidney involvement. Initially, none or only one of these may be experienced. A diagnosis is made by detecting an unusually high percentage of the clonal plasma cells in the blood or in the urine; by anemia which is low blood hemoglobin; by high levels of calcium in the blood; or by bone damage, such as an unexplained fracture. Myeloma is an incurable yet treatable cancer. Today, people are living longer with the addition of newer treatments. Treatment for myeloma includes chemotherapy, radiation, and/or stem cell transplant. Chemotherapy options have increased in recent years with the addition of various newer drugs such as Revlimid (Lenalidomide), Velcade (Bortezomib), and Thalidomide. These are often used in conjunction with steroids such as Dexamethasone or Prednisone. Radiation helps with pain management and to damage or kill the malignant cells.
Multiple myeloma may not present any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Symptoms appear once a tumour grows in or somewhere outside the bone marrow. Signs and symptoms my include – bone pain or tenderness, low red blood cell count (anemia), fatigue or weakness, low shite cell counts that lead to frequent infections such as pneumonia, and high levels of protein in the urine, leading to kidney damage.
Although myeloma remains incurable, new and innovative treatments are helping patients live longer, productive lives.
- Each day, 7 Canadians are diagnosed with myeloma
- 75% of diagnoses are made over the age of 60.
- There are 7,500 Canadians living with myeloma
- Over 1,300 Canadians succumb to myeloma each year.
Myeloma Informative Website Links
Due to an ever increasing interest by the research community, new therapies are being discovered and tested under clinical trials. Myeloma Alberta Support Society provides links to the following websites in an attempt to make educational information available to MASS members. These sites contain reports on treatment therapies, standards of care, new trials, newsletters, bogs presentations and webinars some are local and some are international.
Standards of Myeloma Care in Alberta found at: Standards
New and available Myeloma Trials (Alberta) maybe found at: Alberta Trials
Myeloma Canada is a valuable site providing information from a national perspective. Myeloma Canada
The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) contains information and insight into Myeloma developments on an international scale. Teleconferences:(free of charge) are routinely announced and presented by the International Myeloma Foundation. click on IMF
Myeloma UK is the United Kingdom Myeloma site and like other myeloma sites provides an assortment of newsletters, bogs presentations and webinars. click on UK myeloma
National Cancer Institute provides information on all cancers and has a section for Myeloma. click on NIH