He said that a routine blood screening can catch a number of myeloma cases while it is still in an asymptomatic state. (This was the case for Dominic... thank God for our GP who is a stickler for routine bloodwork! Dr. Culasso's insistence on regular blood testing saved Dom's life ) The symptom at the onset of the disease for most Thai patients is bone pain. In those who have pathologic fractures especially fractures of the thoracic and lumbar vertebral bodies, it usually results in severe spasms and back pain. The anaemia, which may be quite severe, is the most common cause of weakness in patients with MM.
Asked to share common causes and symptoms of myeloma, Dr Weerasak explained that as there is no exact cause of MM, there are several risk factors that could lead to the disease. Repeated exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, benzene and spraypaints have been proposed as potential causes. (Dom's MM was attributed to Agent Orange exposure while serving in Vietnam)
''Most people with MM have no known risk factors other than age,'' he said. ''Scientists have identified a few risk factors for instance, obesity, exposure to radiation or chemicals. Not everyone with risk factors gets multiple myeloma. Myeloma is slightly more common in men than women, and most people are diagnosed in their sixties.
''Symptoms could include frequent low back pain. The pain could nonetheless occur in other areas like ribs, arms, legs and pelvis.
''For patients that develop anaemia, they will have paleness, dizziness, weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath. Infections such as pneumonia, sinusitis are frequent. Weakness or numbness in your legs might be the result of spinal cord compression. Unexplained weight loss is common. High calcium levels cause excessive thirst, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite and confusion. Swelling, especially in the legs, along with weakness are symptoms of kidney failure.''
Best prevention methods are to keep healthy through having a good diet, exercise to enhance your physique, observe good personal hygiene to prevent infection and avoiding smoking and alcohol. Exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation is believed to increase the risk of multiple myeloma and other cancers, so keep this in mind and avoid being around these substances for long periods of time. Regular medical examinations for early detection and timely treatment is always advisable.
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