Multiple Myeloma is a type of cancer of plasma cells which are a type of white blood cells. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs but in case of Multiple Myeloma cancer cells start producing abnormal proteins and causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow that cause complications and weakens the immune system of the body. Cause of Multiple Myeloma is still no clear and signifies towards one abnormal plasma cell in your bone marrow which leads to formation of cancerous cells.
Symptoms and clinical features of Multiple Myeloma vary in different individuals, although initial symptoms include: Bone pain, especially in your spine or chest, Nausea, Constipation, Loss of appetite, Mental fogginess or confusion, Fatigue, Frequent infections, Weight loss Weakness or numbness in your legs and Excessive thirst. There are various standard treatment options for Multiple Myeloma which depends on the risk of your disease progressing, your age and your overall health. Bone Marrow transplant will likely include a combination of treatments, such as targeted therapy, biological therapy, corticosteroids and, sometimes, chemotherapy.
PREPARING FOR THE TRANSPLANT
To decide if you are a candidate for Bone Marrow transplant, you will be undergoing various investigations and diagnostic tests such as blood tests, urine tests, examination of your bone marrow and imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI, CT or positron emission tomography (PET). On the basis of test results your oncologist will determine the stage of your Multiple Myeloma as I, II or III. Stage I indicates a less aggressive disease, and stage III indicates an aggressive disease that may affect bone, kidneys and other organs.
BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT PROCEDURE FOR MULTIPLE MYELOMA
Autologous bone marrow transplant is the preferred option for treating Multiple Myeloma. Before a bone marrow transplant, blood-forming stem cells are collected from your blood, you’ll receive medications that cause your stem cells to increase in number and to move out of your bone marrow and into your blood, where they can be easily collected. In order to collect your stem cells, a needle is inserted into a vein in your arm to draw out your blood. You then receive high doses of chemotherapy or radiation to destroy your diseased bone marrow and cancer cells. Then your stem cells are infused into your body via blood though vein, where they travel to your bones and begin rebuilding your bone marrow.
Some doctors recommend that patients with Multiple Myeloma have 2 autologous transplants, 6 to 12 months apart. This approach is called tandem transplant.
After your bone marrow transplant, you will be kept under constant monitoring and will be observed for any side effects, post-surgery complications and your body’s response to the transplant. Also, after your bone marrow transplant, you’ll likely receive targeted therapy or biological therapy as a maintenance treatment to prevent a recurrence of myeloma.
It takes a long time to get over bone marrow transplant for Multiple Myeloma. It is an intensive process and it may be several months before you really feel you have got your strength back. Feeling extremely tired is normal to begin with and affects some people more than others. After a transplant, it also takes time for your blood cell levels to recover and for your immune system to work properly again. During this recovery period you are at higher risk of infections. You will need to take medicines to prevent infections for the first few weeks at home. When you are fully recovered from your transplant you may need to have vaccinations against certain infections. Once your white cell count recovers, you can go out normally again.
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Q: What are the survival chances for people with Multiple Myeloma?
A: As per research, the average life expectancy for people with Multiple Myeloma is around four years, however in some cases patients live up to ten to twenty years or more.
Q: Does Bone marrow transplant cures the Multiple Myeloma?
A: No, bone marrow transplant does not cure the Multiple Myeloma, it just decreases the symptoms and further exaggeration of the disease to other parts of the body.
Q: Is Multiple Myeloma a genetic disorder?
A: Exact cause of Multiple Myeloma is not known but research suggests genetic abnormalities, such as c-Myc genes or environmental exposures, may play a role.
Q: Is it possible to prevent the occurrence of Multiple Myeloma?
A: Because the risk factors for Multiple Myeloma are not fully understood, it is not a preventable disease.
Q: What are the different stages of Multiple Myeloma?
A: There are four stages of Multiple Myeloma: Smouldering: Multiple Myeloma with no symptoms; Stage I: early disease with little anaemia, relatively small amount of M protein and no bone damage; Stage II: more anaemia and M protein as well as bone damage; Stage III: still more M protein, anaemia, as well as signs of kidney damage.
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