3 Ways Your Oncologist Might Help You Fight Multiple Myeloma

May 7th 2016

Although all cancers can have serious repercussions, multiple myeloma is highly treatable. If you think you may be suffering from this cancer, talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment options.

Treating the Symptoms

Multiple myeloma usually does not need much treatment, especially in the early stages. Doctors often refrain from using more intense treatments until absolutely necessary, especially because the cancer is usually only found in older patients. Instead, your oncologist may help you stay comfortable by treating and managing the symptoms of the disease, such as anemia and a depressed immune system, while monitoring the progress.

Chemotherapy, Drug Therapy and Radiation

These three therapies are similar in they all inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy both work by killing fast-growing cells, although chemotherapy is more commonly used for multiple myeloma patients. Radiation therapy tends to be used to target a specific body part, so patients who develop a fast-growing bunch of cancer cells may need it.

Drug therapy comes in two forms. Targeted therapy prevents the cancer cells from functioning normally, which helps keep them from spreading. Biological therapy works by stimulating the patient's own immune system to attack the cancer.

Stem Cell Transplant

For patients with severe cases of multiple myeloma, a stem cell transplant may be necessary. Unlike many other types of transplants, this procedure uses the patient's own healthy cells, which are collected in advance. High doses of chemotherapy are then administered to destroy as much of the diseased cells as possible, and then the healthy cells are transplanted back into the bone. The healthy marrow then replicates and restores normal functioning.

Conclusion

A multiple myeloma diagnosis can be frightening. This uncommon cancer works by targeting the white blood cells, or plasma, your body uses to fight infections. Over time, these abnormal cells build up in the blood marrow and can cause a range of problems, from brittle bones to kidney failure. Fortunately, multiple myeloma has many treatments and a good prognosis for many patients.

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