Multiple myeloma is a kind of blood disorder that is closely related to leukemia. It occurs in the bone marrow when the plasma (a type of white blood cell) multiplies abnormally. These cells release high levels of protein in the bones and blood which are very unhealthy. The high protein gets stored throughout the body and cause bone damage. As the illness progresses the plasma cells start depositing in other parts of the body and thereby cause more damage to the different organs.
The Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
The symptoms of multiple myeloma vary from one person to another. In the early stages there are hardly any symptoms but at least one or more symptoms will occur as the disease progresses. The major symptoms include
1) High level of calcium in blood
The calcium from the affected bones can get mixed with the blood. When the calcium level in the blood increases a person may suffer from confusion, loss of appetite and constipation.
2) Renal failure
There are certain abnormal proteins known as M proteins which have the capacity to damage the kidney. These abnormal proteins are also known as Bence Jones proteins.
3) Anemia induced fatigue
The myeloma cells replace the red blood cells which carry oxygen in the bone marrow. The myeloma cells are responsible for causing fatigue in the body.
4) Bone damage and fractures
The bone damage in multiple myeloma is known as lytic and in an X-ray plate it will appear as spots. The most common symptoms of bone damage are severe bone pain in the skull, ribs and pelvis.
The above-mentioned symptoms of multiple myeloma are collectively known as CRAB which is just an acronym for Calcium, Renal failure, Anemia and Bone damage. However, there are some other noted symptoms of multiple myeloma which are weight loss, numbness in the legs and repeated occurrence of infections such as shingles, skin infections, kidney infections and problems in the bladder.
The severity of this disease varies from person to person. There are many people who have lived for many years with this gradually progressing disease. But in there have been cases where a rapid spread of this illness has been noted. The most challenging task of a doctor is to identify the pattern of this ailment. Nowadays DNA testing of plasma cells are done to ascertain the chances of survival. However, even the best method of testing may not accurately predict how long a person will live with this dreaded disease.