Friday, July 15, 2016

Multiple Myeloma

Cancer is a devastating diagnosis no matter who you are.  Let us remind you what the word cancer means…it simply means an abnormal growth of cells that end up interrupting the normal processes of your body.  Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that develops in a type of white blood cell that circulates throughout your body called a plasma cell.  Plasma cells are those that are responsible in helping you fight off infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack unwelcomed germs. 

Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow.  When they accumulate and continue to build up, they eventually begin to crowd out your healthy blood cells.  Therefore, now your cells are no longer create helpful antibodies to help fight infection…rather now these cancerous cells begin to produce abnormal proteins that can result in kidney problems and in other areas. 

This leads us to signs and symptoms, which when dealing with multiple myeloma…these can vary.  A good fact to know is that early in this disease there actually may be none.  When signs and symptoms do begin to surface and occur, they may include the following:

·      Bone pain, most prominent in your spine or chest
·      Nausea
·      Constipation
·      Loss of appetite
·      Confusion
·      Fatigue
·      Frequent infections
·      Weight loss
·      Weakness or numb sensations in your legs
·      Excessive thirst

Treatment for multiple myeloma is not always necessary.  If you have no signs and symptoms, you actually may not require treatment measures.  However, if signs and symptoms do develop…take comfort in knowing that there are a number of treatments that can help control them.  If you feel that any of the signs and symptoms such as those listed above were to become more frequent and persistent for you, and/or they begin to cause disruptions in your daily routines…please seek medical attention promptly for treatment.

There is no clear cause of multiple myeloma at this time.  All that is for sure is that this condition occurs in your bone marrow, and all it takes is one abnormal plasma cell to begin to multiply rapidly without limits.  Keep in mind that because cancer cells do not mature and then die off as your normal cells do, they continually accumulate and eventually overwhelm your healthy cells and crowd them out from doing their jobs correctly.  For instance in multiple myeloma, the cancerous cells begin to crowd out your healthy red and white blood cells, resulting in you feeling tired with an inability to fight off even the smallest of infections. 

As with everything else in the medical field there are risks factors that may increase your chance of multiple myeloma, which may include the following:

o   Increasing age
·      Risk increases with age, as most individuals are diagnosed in their mid-60s.
o   Gender
·      Males are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than females.
o   Race
·      African-Americans are about twice as likely to develop this disease as those who are Caucasian.

Complications also may arise with multiple myeloma.  If you or your loved one is faced with this disease, any of the following complications listed below may occur at some point:

o   Frequent infections
·      Myeloma cells crowd out the cells that are responsible for fighting infections and you no longer have as many healthy cells fighting for you once the cancer cells rapidly take over.
o   Bone problems
·      This disease can affect your bones by leading to bone pain, thinning of your bones, and even causing bones to break more easily.
o   Reduced kidney function
·      Kidney failure may occur due to this disease.  The unhealthy proteins that the cancerous myeloma cells produce can interfere with your kidneys’ ability to filter the waste in your blood allowing it to dwell and destroy things in its surroundings.
o   Anemia
·      This is when there is a low red blood cell count.  As myeloma cells crowd out the normal blood cells, there will end up being a decrease in the number of red blood cells in circulation.

In order for your provider to diagnose you with multiple myeloma you will most likely have to undergo blood tests, urine tests, imaging studies and examination of your bone marrow in order to provide for the most definitive diagnosis.  Once diagnosed your multiple myeloma disease will be staged as either stage 1, 2 or 3 and may also be assigned to a risk category which indicates just how aggressive your disease is.  After your provider gives you your diagnosis, stages your condition, and gives it a risk category your treatment options and prognosis will then be discussed in greater detail.  Treatment goals for you will be aimed at helping to relieve any pain, control any complications, and look to stabilize your condition all while working to slow its progression.

Total Home Health has a program that is right for you or your loved one who is experiencing cancer.  We know how devastating of a diagnosis this can be and how it can make you feel about your outlook on life.  Our compassionate professionals will take your hand and help lead the way in the comforts of your own home always with your wishes in mind.  We will work alongside other professionals on your healthcare team in order to continue provide you with outstanding care that takes positive strides to control your condition.  Enroll with us today at Total Home Health and let us help you gain a more positive outlook to better enjoy the life in front of you!

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