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General Practice 2023

Múmultiple myeloma: what é, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

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Múmultiple myeloma: what é, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Múmultiple myeloma: what é, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the cells produced by the bone marrow responsible for producing antibodies, which makes the person have a weaker immune system, increasing the risk of infections.

This type of cancer is infrequent and is more common in the elderly, with an average age of 66 years at diagnosis. Multiple myeloma does not have a specific cause, but appears to be due to genetic changes that affect the functioning of bone marrow cells. Also, at an early stage, multiple myeloma does not cause symptoms, however, over time it can cause signs such as weakness, bone pain, drowsiness or anemia.

Multiple myeloma is considered a cancer that has no cure, however, with proper treatment and guided by a hematologist, it is possible to stabilize the disease for several years, relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.

Symptoms of multiple myeloma

In the initial phase, multiple myeloma does not cause symptoms, however, in a more advanced phase, symptoms such as:

  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Weakness;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Moments of confusion;
  • Purple marks on the skin;
  • Decreased strength and sensitivity of fingers and toes;
  • Increased blood calcium levels;
  • Pain in bones, mainly hip and ribs;
  • Frequent fractures;
  • Altered sensitivity, especially in the hands and feet;
  • Difficulty moving hands or feet.

When signs that may indicate multiple myeloma appear, it is important to consult a hematologist to assess symptoms and initiate the most appropriate treatment.

In addition to the symptoms, changes in the functioning of the kidneys and in blood tests may appear, such as an increase in calcium values ​​and a decrease in the number of blood cells, such as platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells, increasing the risk of anemia.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of multiple myeloma is initially made by performing a blood count, in which changes in the quantity and characteristics of lymphocytes are observed. In addition, the doctor may recommend performing protein electrophoresis in order to identify the presence of M protein, whose concentration is normally altered in this situation. Understand better how to understand the result of protein electrophoresis.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor requests a bone marrow biopsy, which is performed by collecting a marrow sample from the pelvic bone. Thus, it is possible to evaluate the functioning of the bone marrow and the characteristics of the cells produced, making it possible to conclude the diagnosis.

In some cases, it may also be recommended to perform some imaging tests, such as radiography, computed tomography, PET scan and magnetic resonance imaging to assess whether there is any bone alteration.

How the treatment is done

Treatment depends on the stage of multiple myeloma and should be indicated by the hematologist after evaluating the tests that were performed. In the initial stage, when there are no symptoms, any type of treatment may not be necessary, only regular surveillance of the cancer is indicated. In these cases, the doctor may also recommend removing a small amount of bone marrow from the person, which can be used later, when symptoms appear.

When there are already symptoms, or when the myeloma is at a more advanced stage, the hematologist may indicate the use of analgesic drugs for pain relief and other drugs such as bisphosphonates, bortezomib, lenalidomide, and dexamethasone, usually associated with chemotherapy. In some cases, it may also be recommended to have courses of radiation therapy or have a bone marrow transplant to replace the cells that have been destroyed. Find out when bone marrow transplantation is indicated and how it is done.

In addition, it is common for the doctor to guide the treatment for the complications of multiple myeloma, such as anemia, infections and kidney failure, for example.

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