The Four Best Treatment Options Available for Multiple Myeloma Cancer
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer of the plasma cells of the body. It causes the cells to crowd out healthy cells of the bone marrow. Usually, healthy cells die after they reach a state of maturity. Then, they are replaced with new cells. But cancerous cells don’t die like they are supposed to, and they multiply very quickly. So as their numbers expand, this leaves very little room for healthy cells in the bone marrow.
As the cancer builds up in the marrow, the bones will become more fragile. In fact, many people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer after they break a bone. The calcium of the bones leaches away until even a minor fall causes them to snap. But the worst symptom of all is the pain that the person afflicted with this disease will have to go through. Even the strongest pain medications available do little to phase it.
There is no cure for this type of cancer. Some doctors believe that it should be moved to the list of chronic diseases though, since there are many treatment options available that can help extend a person’s life past the three to five year life expectancy that is normally given after a diagnosis. Some of the treatments that are available include:
Chemotherapy is the injection of anti-cancer medications into the body. The medications are actually poisons that stop the process of cell division in cancer cells, so they can’t multiply anymore. The medications also stress the cancer cells, which makes them die. But this treatment takes a heavy toll on the body. Many people struggle to survive because it makes their immune system virtually nonexistent. They will also have all of their hair fall out, and they will stay in a lot of pain. The nausea, vomiting, and weakness is even worse.
This type of steroids is usually given before a stem cell transplant is done. They block white blood cells from accumulating in areas of the body damaged by cancer cells. This prevents inflammation and swelling in those areas, so the transplant will be safer. One specific type of corticosteroid is called “dexamethasone.” It can kill cancerous myeloma cells.
Stem Cell Transplant
This treatment is used in correlation with the other treatments. First, a person will undergo radiation or chemotherapy to kill all of the cancerous cells in their bone marrow. Then, they will take corticosteroids before new healthy stem cells are injected into the bone marrow to replenish those that were lost. There is a big risk for infection to occur from this procedure.
If the cancer is only located in one area, then x-rays can be directed there to destroy the cancer cells. Often, the radiation is only used in the areas of the bone that are causing the person the most pain. It is generally given with pain relieving medications. Radiation is also used along with other types of treatments. To avoid side effects, doctors usually try to administer this treatment only in low doses.