What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells of the patient. The normal and healthy plasma cells help the patient to fight against infectious diseases.
Multiple myeloma treatment varies from person to person depending on various factors.
The myeloma treatment includes different methods and techniques. Plasma cells attack the foreign body that invades the patient’s body by producing antibodies against them.
Healthy plasma cells produce these antibodies to recognize and attack infection-causing organisms.
During multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells are produced that are unable to perform their crucial role in terms of immunity.
Instead of helping to fight against germs and other organisms, these abnormal plasma cells may increase the compilations in many cases.
Many different treatments for multiple myeloma are available now. Many cancer centers provide suitable treatments for this cause such as HCG Cancer Center. Several types of multiple myeloma treatment drugs are used to treat this condition.
Some of these types of treatment for multiple myeloma are described in this article along with their complications and the cost of the treatment.
Causes of Multiple Myeloma
The cause of multiple myeloma is not known to humankind. There is no clear evidence that proves that multiple myeloma is inherited from the family however is a potential risk factor.
The cancerous cells start growing into the bone marrow to large bones which marks the beginning of multiple myeloma. These cancerous cells divide rapidly and abnormally.
Unlike normal plasma cells, these cancerous cells do not grow and die eventually but they accumulate in the bone marrow and overcome the number of healthy plasma cells leading to other complications.
These abnormal plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies which do function in the right way. These abnormal antibodies are of no use and hence do not get used up by the body to fight against infection.
Therefore, these antibodies accumulate in the body and cause other issues such as kidney or bone damage.
Common Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma can be detected due to the presence of some general symptoms including
- Pain in the bone of the spine and chest
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- More frequent infections etc.
If you suspect these types of symptoms, immediately consult a doctor.
Types of Treatment of Multiple Myeloma
Treatment for multiple myeloma helps the patient to get relief from symptoms and slow the advancement of growing cancerous cells.
As multiple myeloma cannot be cured, treatment for multiple myeloma comes as a great help for patients to ease the symptoms.
The treatment for multiple myeloma involves various methods and techniques. Some of them are listed below
1. Drugs for Multiple Myeloma Treatment
Different multiple myeloma drugs are used normally to treat the conditions. The best oncologist determines the ideal drug treatment that must be given to the patient with multiple myeloma.
There are around six types of drugs that are usually involved in the treatment of multiple myeloma.
The treatment plan may involve a combination of these drugs or any single type of drug, that can be taken via different routes of administration.
Some of the multiple myeloma treatment drugs are:
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy involves several drugs that kill the cancerous cells and inhibit them from growing rapidly. A different number of sessions of chemotherapy are provided to the patient according to the severity of the condition. Some of the drugs involved in chemotherapy are cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, melphalan and etoposide etc. These are the generic names of these drugs.
- Steroids – Corticosteroids are the most common drugs that are provided along with chemotherapy drugs to make the chemotherapy more effective and reduce the feeling of vomiting and nausea. Some of the most used steroids are Dexamethasone and Prednisone.
- Histone deacetylase (HAC) inhibitor – These medications help uncoil DNA and eventually activate genes that aim to stop or inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. These types of drugs come under targeted drug therapy. The Histone deacetylase (HAC) inhibitor drug is Panobinostat.
- Immunomodulators – Immunomodulators are the type of drugs that assist the immune system to kill cancerous cells and even fighting against them. They help to put certain types of immune cells which prevent the cancerous cells from spreading. These drugs include Lenalidomide, Pomalidomide and Thalidomide.
- Proteosome inhibitors – These types of drugs are used to treat newly diagnosed multiple myeloma or the myeloma that has reoccurred in patients. Multiple myeloma drugs that are proteasome inhibitors are Bortezomib, carfilzomib, and ixazomib. They inhibit the proteasome enzymes in the cells which prevents them from digesting the proteins that control cell growth.
Immunotherapy is a way to help the immune system of the patient to work against cancerous cells. It applies manual or laboratory ways to improve the function of the immune system.
CAR-T cells therapy is a modern therapy that stands for chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells therapy, it involves the removal of some cells from the patient’s blood.
These cells are T-cells, which are an important part of the defense system. These T-cells are manipulated in the laboratory in such a way as to identify and kill cancerous cells in the body.
After manipulation, these cells are placed back into the body of the patient to kill cancerous cells. Different types of immunotherapies can be used to treat cancer depending on various factors.
The patient might experience some common side effects such as diarrhoea, weight changes and other effects.
The Immunotherapy cost depends on many factors such as the size of tumor, the stage of cancer, and many more.
3. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a method of treatment for multiple myeloma that involves high-energy beams to destroy cancerous cells in the bone.
It is implied when chemotherapy is not effective in relieving some of the symptoms of multiple myeloma. Usually, radiation therapy is used to treat bone pain that cannot be treated through other drugs.
Radiation therapy may have several side effects including fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea or low blood count.
It is considered a risky method if the main cause of bone pain is fracture or other structural changes.
Radiation therapy done in such cases can also affect future treatment results by destroying healthy blood cells.
Even, radiation therapy cost in India is quite reasonable as compared to other countries.
4. Stem Cell Transplant
Myeloma treatment involves stem cell transplant in some cases. Multiple myeloma can damage stem cells in the bone marrow. These stem cells produce new healthy blood cells.
Before stem cells are transplanted, some healthy stem cells are collected from the patient to grow outside of the body.
The patient undergoes chemotherapy and other drug therapy to kill or destroy the remaining cancerous plasma cells in the body of the patient.
The doctor will decide the amount of dose and number of sessions required to kill these abnormal plasma cells. After chemotherapy, the patient will receive healthy stem cells.
The doctor will place the stem cells back into the body of the patient through an IV. In some cases, these healthy stem cells are collected from related siblings or donors.
A stem cell transplant is a very complicated treatment because it’s part of a bone marrow transplant. Not only is it complicated, but the cost of bone marrow transplant is prohibitively expensive.
As a result, only a skilled and experienced doctor can perform this procedure.
Plasmapheresis is a method to remove the myeloma antibodies produced by abnormal plasma cells from the fluid in the blood.
Similar to dialysis, plasmapheresis is used to filter blood and remove certain proteins from the blood. It helps to relieve some of the symptoms of multiple myeloma.
Along with plasmapheresis, chemotherapy or other drug-related multiple myeloma treatments are also used to treat multiple myeloma.
Other Complications and Their Management
The treatment for multiple myeloma implies several drugs and other methods, which may affect the body of the patient in many ways. Whereas some other complications may bother the patients, which will require other treatments such as:
Kidney damage – Kidney damage is often observed in many patients due to the accumulation of abnormal antibodies produced by abnormal plasma cells. This could also lead to kidney failure.
Treatments that are available for kidney damage are dialysis, plasmapheresis, avoiding NSAID medications and fluid exchange.
Frequent infections – These abnormal plasma cells cannot fight infections and the patient is frequently infected by different organisms.
Along with myeloma treatment, some vaccinations and intravenous antibodies or medications will be provided to the patient to stay healthy.
Anemia – Anemia is commonly seen in multiple myeloma patients. As the abnormal plasma cells overcome the number of normal blood cells, anemia and other blood-related issues may arise.
Treatment for multiple myeloma introduced drugs that may help to control the growth of abnormal plasma cells, with which food supplements and growth hormones are given to the patient to prevent anemia.
Bone issues – Multiple myeloma often affects the bone of the patient causing bone pain, bone thinning and bone damage.
Treatment for bone damage involves drugs of biphosphate salts, surgery for fracture or radiation therapy.
Blood Clot – Due to an increased number of blood cells, blood gets thicker and leads to clotting.
Treatment to remove these blood clots includes drugs such as aspirin or heparin. Along with that other non-drug methods including compression stockings.
Cost of Multiple Myeloma Treatment
The cost of multiple myeloma treatment may vary vastly depending upon the type of treatment a person is getting. The average cost of treatment for multiple myeloma ranges from Rs. 7,00,000 to Rs. 10,00,000 in India.
As there is no complete cure for multiple myeloma, it may be possible that the cancer relapses and the patient must undergo the treatment procedure once again.
Even though these types of cases are very rare. The 5-year survival rate of multiple myeloma is quite high and many people who get diagnosed early live for more than 5 years.
When to See a Doctor?
If anyone experiences any kind of the symptoms mentioned above, they should consult a specialist. The doctor will run several diagnostic tests to endure the condition of the patient.
These tests are essential to know the severity of cancer and which treatment method for multiple myeloma is suitable for that specific patient.
Getting a second opinion on cancer is very important, to consult a doctor you can contact us by sending us a query.
Our organization helps many patients from across the world get the best treatment and consultation from the best oncologist with many years of experience in their field. On top of that, we provide all these services at the minimum cost.