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Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma Treatment in NJ, CT, and MD

Although multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer, doctors can prescribe various treatments to help patients manage their symptoms and slow the disease’s progress. The experienced oncologists and hematologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates treat numerous cancer types and blood disorders, including multiple myeloma. Individuals throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland, as well as the Washington, D.C., area, rely on Regional Cancer Care Associates for compassionate care and cutting-edge treatment.

Diagnostic image of multiple myeloma

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Bone marrow contains white blood cells called plasma cells that help it fight infections. Multiple myeloma – sometimes referred to simply as myeloma — is a rare cancer that develops in the bone marrow, producing abnormal cells that accumulate and eventually crowd out healthy blood cells. This cancer leads to several health complications, including tumors or lesions in the bone and kidneys.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR MULTIPLE MYELOMA?

Healthcare professionals and researchers are unsure of the exact causes of multiple myeloma, as people of different backgrounds and lifestyles can develop the disease. However, several factors seem to increase a person’s risk for this cancer, including:
  • Age: Most people with multiple myeloma are 65 years old or older.
  • Sex: More men develop multiple myeloma than women.
  • Race: Black people develop the disease at a higher rate than people of other races.
  • Obesity: Being obese or overweight may heighten a person’s risk for this cancer.
  • Family history: An individual whose parent or sibling had multiple myeloma Is at increased risk relative to the general population.
  • Exposure to certain elements: People exposed to radiation or chemicals in some pesticides and fertilizers are at elevated risk for multiple myeloma.
  • Having an inflammatory condition: People with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and similar disorders may be at increased risk for developing this cancer.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

Diagnosing a patient with multiple myeloma can be challenging because symptoms often do not show until the disease has progressed significantly. Other times, signs of this cancer may seem related to a different condition, or the patient has no symptoms at all. The following are some indications a person may have multiple myeloma:

  • Bone pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Back pain and weakness in the legs
  • Loss of appetite and increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Constipation
  • More frequent bleeding and bruising from minor injuries
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Kidney problems
  • Cognitive issues (“brain fog”)
  • Recurrent infections
  • Low red and white blood cell counts

MULTIPLE MYELOMA DIAGNOSIS AND STAGING

The oncologists and hematologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates employ a variety of means to diagnose multiple myeloma and assigning it a stage that reflects the nature and extent of disease. Blood tests are used to assess levels of albumin, beta-2 microglobulin, calcium, uric acid, and lactate dehydrogenase, and – potentially – other biomarkers. Urine tests and examination of a bone marrow sample also can be valuable, as can imaging studies, such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET).

Staging enables doctors to characterize the disease’s nature and extent, and to make treatment decisions accordingly.

TREATMENT FOR MULTIPLE MYELOMA

The five-year survival rate for people with multiple myeloma ranges widely, from 40% to 82%, depending on the nature and extent of the disease. As with other cancers, the earlier multiple myeloma is detected, the sooner the patients can begin treatment, and – in general – the longer their life expectancy. Although the disease cannot be cured at this time, treatment also can prevent, relieve, or minimize symptoms. Treatment for multiple myeloma includes:

  • Chemotherapy: This treatment involves administration of drugs that attack and kill cancer cells.
  • Immunomodulatory drugs: These drugs target several cancers, like multiple myeloma, mainly by decreasing some proteins in the immune system and elevating the levels of others.
  • Interferon: This substance is produced by white blood cells, but labs also manufacture it to treat cancers.
  • Monoclonal antibodies: These antibodies bind to certain elements in the body, such as antigens on cancer cells. Each type of monoclonal antibody pinpoints a specific antigen.
  • Steroids: These artificial chemicals mimic hormones to alleviate inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.
  • Targeted therapy: In targeted therapy, drugs search for and destroy or render harmless cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment approach uses high-power energy beams to kill cancer cells.
  • Stem cell transplantation: In this procedure, a patient’s diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow. After patient’s own blood-forming stem cells are collected, the patient receives chemotherapy to wipe out the diseased bone marrow. The stem cells collected before chemotherapy are then infused back into the patient and begin the process of developing new, healthy bone marrow
Doctor explaining scan to patient

Besides medications and therapies, physicians may recommend lifestyle changes to mitigate symptoms and impede cancer’s progression. Some behaviors patients with multiple myeloma may consider implementing include:

  • Exercising when possible
  • Getting ample rest
  • Improving their nutrition
  • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Seeking support from family and friends in addition to the healthcare team

Find Multiple Myeloma Treatment at Regional Cancer Care Associates

Multiple myeloma — and cancer in general — takes a tremendous toll on a person’s life, both physically and emotionally. However, receiving the latest treatments from compassionate and experienced providers can provide patients not only with the best possible outcomes but also with patients’ peace of mind. At Regional Cancer Care Associates, oncologists and hematologists provide patients with cutting-edge diagnoses and treatments for cancer and blood disorders. Contact one of the 25 locations in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area to schedule an appointment.

Regional Cancer Care Associates — A “whole life” approach to cancer care

At Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA), we take a comprehensive, “whole-life” approach, treating you as a whole person — not just your disease. We treat your cancer in an individualized and medically advanced manner. At RCCA, you’ll be diagnosed, treated and cared for by nationally-recognized experts who are close to your home.

You can schedule an appointment or get more information by calling (844) 346-7222. You can also schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location near you.

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