Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that is caused by plasma cells that are malignant. A plasma cell is a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow. Normal plasma cells are vital to a healthy immune system.
In 2015, the battle against multiple myeloma received a new ally. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved Johnson & Johnson's multiple myeloma drug Darzalex. The drug is designed for multiple myeloma patients with limited options due to previous failed treatments.
What Are The Common Symptoms For Multiple Myeloma?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), common symptoms for multiple myeloma can include broken bones, bone pain (in the ribs or in the back), weight loss, fatigue and frequent urination.
Individuals with multiple myeloma can also feel very thirsty frequently and suffer from recurrent fevers and infections. Other symptoms include constipation, nausea, confusion and loss of appetite.
If one suffers from any of these persistent symptoms, it is best to make an appointment with a doctor.
How Is Multiple Myeloma Diagnosed?
Common diagnosis methods include imaging and lab tests as well as a biopsy of the bone marrow.
What Are The Complications Linked To Multiple Myeloma?
Patients with multiple myeloma have low blood counts because the plasma cells overgrowth in the bone marrow can overcrowd the healthy blood-forming cells. This condition can cause anemia — red blood cells shortage. Anemia patients become weak and pale and they suffer from fatigue.
People with multiple myeloma can also develop thrombocytopenia, a condition wherein the blood platelets levels are low. Thrombocytopenia can lead to increased bruising and bleeding.
Another multiple myeloma-related condition is leukopenia wherein there is a shortage of healthy white blood cells. It can affect the patient's ability to fight infections.
Multiple myeloma affects the bones, which can lead to fractures, bone thinning and pain. Eroding bones can increase the calcium levels in the blood, which affects the kidney's ability to filter waste and can lead to kidney problems.
What Are the Treatments For Multiple Myeloma?
Treatment of multiple myeloma depends on the how far the condition has progressed. According to NLM, patients who have no symptoms may not require immediate treatment. However, for patients who suffer from various symptoms, common treatments include targeted therapy, radiation, chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation.
Johnson & Johnson's multiple myeloma drug Darzalex, which is chemically known as daratumumab, attacks only the malignant cells while keeping healthy cells undisturbed.