Most people with myeloma have blood cancer symptoms at the time of their diagnosis. The most common signs are severe and include chronic back pain. Some of the symptoms are caused by tissue or organ damage. This type of damage can be caused by cancerous cells or paraproteins, in the marrow. Usually, new plasma cells are created to replace the worn-out older cells, in a controlled manner. Myeloma will cause the process to get out of control and large amounts of abnormal cells will be produced. These cells will fill up the bone marrow, interfering with the production of normal white and red blood cells and platelets. The cancerous cells will produce large amounts of a single abnormal antibody. The abnormal antibodies will be unable to fight infection and will minimize the production of normal antibodies. These myeloma cells will spread throughout the bone marrow. The overproduction of plasma cells can cause damage to the bones, which in turn causes the bones to become thin and brittle.
Signs of the Feared Myeloma
The symptoms you experience when you’re diagnosed with blood cancer will depend on how much the cancer has affected the body. When diagnosed, if you have no symptoms, you may not be required to start treatment. It’s recommended that you report any changes in your condition or any new symptoms you experience, to your healthcare professional immediately.
While not common, there are symptoms which need to be dealt with urgently, such as signs of infection, signs of pressure on the spinal cord and signs of a raised calcium level.
Signs of infection include confusion, sore throat, temperature or cough, rapid heart rate, difficulty urinating and increased pain. Because of your diagnosis, it’s likely that your immune system isn’t functioning properly and an infection could pose a more serious health risk. Symptoms of an infection can be less obvious because of the cancer, or if you take certain medications.
Signs of pressure on the spinal cord that’s caused by bone damage can include long-standing pain, leg pain, and central back pain, increased pain when lying down, tingling in the limbs, weakness in the legs or the inability to control bladder or bowels.
Possible signs of an elevated calcium level include a feeling of sickness, constipation, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, confusion, frequent urination and fatigue.
Even if you aren’t anemic, you can still experience increased fatigue. This level of fatigue isn’t the same as ordinary tiredness which can improve with sleep. If you’re experiencing fatigue try to stay active as studies have shown that inactivity tends to make fatigue worse. Staying active won’t cause fatigue to go away completely, but it can help to improve your energy level.
Many patients with myeloma will experience a good quality of life, especially if the symptoms they experience respond well to treatment and therapy. If you are not being actively treated for Myeloma, then you may experience some anxiety. Some people will become concerned and feel that a more proactive approach needs to be taken. If this is the case, then you can speak with your healthcare professional or seek a second opinion regarding treatment options.
The Structure of The Affected Cells
Blood cancer is the formation of cancerous cells that attack the different parts of the circulatory system. There are three blood cancer types. Each types can also include a number of variations, but generally this cancer is categorized into the following: lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.
Leukemia affects the white blood cell count. These cells are the infection fighting part of the immune system, which is created in the bone marrow. People with leukemia will produce abnormal white blood cells which will block their bone marrow and stop it from making other cells that are vital for a normal well balanced immune system. There are four main types of leukemia: chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is the common form, while chronic myeloid leukemia affects people of all ages, and acute lymph leukemia is the most common form affecting children. Myeloid leukemia is most commonly diagnosed in patients over the age of sixty.
[box]Lymphoma, will affect the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system that helps to protect the body from disease and infection. When a person has lymphoma it means that their body makes too many lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell. The lymphocytes will also live longer than normal, which can compromise the immune system. Lymphoma can develop in different parts of the body, including the spleen, blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes, as well as other organs. The two types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There are several types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while Hodgkin’s lymphoma is less common, making up twenty percent of all lymphoma cases. Hodgkin’s lymphoma can affect people of any age, but it’s more commonly found in people from the ages of twenty to sixty.[/box]
Myeloma will affect the plasma cells. The plasma cells are found in bone marrow and they produce antibodies that are designed to fight infection. For this type, the plasma cells will gather in the bone marrow and stop it from producing normal blood cells.
What to Expect from a Cancer Assessment and Treatment Plan
The different types of the disease represent a large group of different malignancies, including cancers of the lymphatic system, blood, and bone marrow, which will also affect the digestive tract, lymphoid tissue, tonsils, lymphatic vessels, spleen and thymus. Myeloma and leukemia, which begins in the bone marrow, and lymphoma which begins in the lymphatic system, are the most common types, however the cause behind these cancers remains unknown. As myeloma and leukemia grow within bone marrow, they can interfere with the bone marrow’s ability to create and produce platelets and red and white blood cells. This in turn causes frequent infections and anemia. Lymphoma usually appears as the enlargement of the lymph nodes and can also interfere with the immune system’s ability to fight an infection. In addition, myeloma can generate a substance that will make the bones become brittle, producing abnormal proteins that cause symptoms in different parts of the body.
People with this type of cancer will have problems with serious infections and bleeding. Immediate attention is required if you are experiencing blood cancer symptoms such as severe sweating, bleeding that is uncontrolled, blue fingernails or lips, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, increased confusion, chronic fever, or loss of consciousness.