Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are white blood cells responsible for producing antibodies to fight infections. When these cells become cancerous, they produce abnormal proteins called monoclonal proteins or M-proteins, which can damage the kidneys and weaken bones.
Diagnosing multiple myeloma can be challenging because its symptoms are similar to other diseases. However, with proper tests and evaluations, doctors can identify the disease early and provide appropriate treatment options. This guide explains what helps diagnose multiple myeloma and what you should expect during diagnosis.
Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
Early signs of multiple myeloma may not be noticeable as they develop slowly over time. Once symptoms appear, they may include:
- Bone pain
- Weakened bones leading to fractures
- Fatigue “
- Loss of appetite”
- Constipation “
- Nausea “
As the disease progresses, additional symptoms such as frequent infections, weight loss, fever/sweats at nights may occur while your doctor might also find anemia on laboratory testing.
It’s important to note that some people with multiple myeloma might not experience any symptoms until their condition advances significantly such cases often detected incidentally by routine blood workups.
Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma
Certain factors increase your risk of developing multiple myeloma such as;
- Male sex
- African American race but it is not exclusive to this group
- Family history of multiple myeloma
Some studies showed other probable risk factors such as exposure to radiation or certain chemicals but usually those exposures happened long before illness develops.
In order to confirm suspected cases these following steps are commonly taken,
Multiple myeloma may first be discovered on a routine blood test, such as CBC. If your doctor suspects multiple myeloma based on laboratory findings accompanied by some clinical symptoms discussed above, he or she is going to conduct additional tests.
Doctors perform urine protein electrophoresis tests to detect M-proteins in the urine that might suggest multiple myeloma. But keep in mind that In rare cases, monoclonal gammopathies could exist without samples of M proteins found on Testing.
Imaging studies are done to evaluate bones and organs for signs of cancerous growths or fractures. These may include x-rays, ultrasound scans and magnetic resonance imaging .
Bone Marrow Biopsy
To determine if abnormal plasma cells are present inside bone marrow doctors should take a small sample from it via biopsy procedure usually under local anesthesia Some can be performed with needle aspiration while others require extraction through minor surgery techniques these one will take a bit more recovery time, but both procedures show similar results when it comes to diagnosing ME patients.
Common Questions about Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis
Q: Are there different stages of multiple Myeloma?
A: Yes. There’re three main stages of MM; smoldering, non-treated active disease and relapse stage following treatment period.
Q: Can other diseases mimic MM symptoms?
A: Yes. Other illnesses like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis among many others share certain clinical features that might lead physicians astray causing false positives/negatives when evaluating suspected MM cases which requires second opinions from experts at specialized centers if anything seems unclear after preliminary workup
Q: What’s the survival rate for Multiple Myeloma patients?
A: Generally speaking, latest data shows five-year survival rates ranging between %50-60 depending mainly on your age and overall health status as well as nature of your disease.
In conclusion, Multiple Myeloma is a disease that requires diligent evaluation often with specialized laboratory studies combined with proper imaging and clinical assessment. Catching it early can offer improved chances for treatment success and quality of life hence make sure to reach out to your healthcare provider if experiencing any symptoms discussed above or have risk factors associated with such diseases or feel uneasy about regards of your test results.