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 Revlamid (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.
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, blogs presentations and webinars some are local and some are international.
- Standards of Myeloma Care in Alberta
- New and available Myeloma Trials (Alberta)
- 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.
- Myeloma UK – The United Kingdom Myeloma site and like other myeloma sites provides an assortment of newsletters, blogs presentations and webinars. click on UK myeloma
- National Cancer Institute – provides information on all cancers and has a section for Myeloma.
- Alberta Cancer