Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that manifests in a white blood cell known as a plasma cell. Plasma cells play an important role in warding off infections by producing antibodies that identify and strike pathogens.
In its early stages, multiple myeloma may not present itself with any symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms that patients most commonly experience are:
- Painful bones, particularly in the chest and spine
- Nausea, a decrease in appetite, constipation, and weight loss
- A lack of mental clarity
- Fatigue and loss of feeling in the legs
- Extreme thirst
- Recurrent infections
Multiple Myeloma Treatment
If you exhibit any multiple myeloma symptoms, available treatment options can work to lessen pain, prevent further complications, and impede the progression of the disease.
Urgent Treatment May Not Be Needed
If you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma but aren’t exhibiting any symptoms, which is referred to as smoldering multiple myeloma, you may not require treatment right away. That said, your physician will still closely observe your condition to keep track of its progression, which may necessitate regular blood and urine testing.
If you begin to experience symptoms or your disease begins to advance, treatment may then become necessary.
Standard Multiple Myeloma Treatment Options
Targeted medication therapy homes in on particular irregularities within cancer cells that enable them to live on. Bortezomib, carfilzomib, and ixazomib are the main targeted drugs that inhibit the activity of a matter in myeloma cells that disintegrates proteins, which destroys myeloma cells.
Bortezomib is typically prescribed after a patient has received another treatment protocol. It is taken intravenously and is particularly recommended for individuals with kidney issues.
Biologic drug therapy boosts certain cells in the immune system that can recognize and destroy myeloma cells. Taken orally, the primary medications used in this form of treatment are lenalidomide, thalidomide, and pomalidomide. Lenalidomide is a more potent version, FDA-approved version of thalidomide that impedes or inhibits the growth of myeloma cells.
Corticosteroids like dexamethasone and prednisone control the immune system to reduce inflammation. These medications also work against myeloma cells. Corticosteroids are taken either orally or intravenously.
In large doses, dexamethasone can destroy myeloma cells. When taken in combination with other myeloma medications such as bortezomib and lenalidomide, dexamethasone increases the efficacy of these drugs, rendering the treatment protocol much more effective.
Many multiple myeloma patients are prescribed a myeloma drug cocktail to treat their condition, and most of these drug cocktails include a targeted drug such as bortezomib, a biological drug such as thalidomide or lenalidomide, and a steroid such as dexamethasone.
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