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Multiple Myeloma

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma is a rare type of cancer of plasma cells. It is also known as bone marrow cancer or as one of the blood cancers.


Multiple Myeloma is a rare type of cancer of plasma cells. It is also known as bone marrow cancer or as one of the blood cancers.
Acknowledgement of Multiple Myeloma has not been added yet.
Synonyms for Multiple Myeloma has not been added yet.
No single cause has been proven in the development of Multiple Myeloma. Several studies have suggested a genetic origin, while other studies have suggested environmental links. Of particular interest among environmental factors is a statistically significant correlation between MM and exposure to the chemical benzene. People working in the the rubber manufacturing business and those having agricultural exposure to synthetic organic chlorines have also shown an incidence higher than that of the general population. However, no specific cause-and-effect relationship has been demonstrated.
Multiple Myeloma is often not detected until symptoms appear. These include, but are not limited to, bone pain; frequent or easy skeletal fractures; fatigue; frequent infections (colds, flu, difficulty healing) and impaired kidney function or kidney failure. Bone pain arise from the characteristic multiple lesions in bone, often in the spinal column or the long bones of the legs, which are rich in haematapoetic (blood-producing) marrow. The lesions are caused by an Osteoclast Activating Factor (OAF) - causing calcium to leach from the bones into the blood stream - present in a protein produced by malignant plasma cells in the marrow. Skeletal fractures are caused by a generalized decrease in bone density caused by the OAF and resulting in some degree of Osteopoenia or Osteoporosis. Red blood cell anemia in MM patients is very common as the dysfunctional plasma cells proliferate within the marrow and displace ("squeeze out") the red cell progenitors. With fewer red cells being produced, and with red cells having a limited life span before requiring replacement, the total red cell count decreases, and with it the circulation of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen and attaches to the red blood cells. Often red cell (and sometimes platelet) transfusion is required. An uncharacteristic tendency to develop frequent minor infections such as the common cold and the flu, or infections at the site of wounds; or the inability to "shake" an infection can arise from the presence in the blood of dysfunctional b-cells in the immune system. These produce monoclonal antibodies that are ineffective in fighting infection. They are produced by the malignant plasma cells in the marrow, and their numbers continue to increase, displacing normal immune cells producing normal antibodies. Kidney function can become impaired as the higher levels of blood-borne calcium that has leached from the bone are filtered by the kidneys. This at times can result in a dull ache in the kidneys, providing another symptom. Eventually, should be kidneys become clogged with excess calcium, they can lose their ability to filter other toxins in the blood and excrete them in the urine, loading the circulatory system with substances toxic to the organs and tissues of the body. 01/02/2009 Joseph Witalis
The diagnosis of multiple myeloma is often made incidentally during routine blood tests for other conditions. For example, the existence of anemia and a high serum protein may suggest further testing. The diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma is done through a specific protocol of blood and urine test and an X-ray survey of the skeleton. The presence in the blood of a specific protein, a protein produced by malignant cells in the marrow, is needed for diagnosis. This may be what is called an "M-protein" or "Bence-Jones protein." The stage of disease (I, II, or III; and -a or -b) is determined by a study of the density of plasma cells in a sample of marrow and whether or not the kidney function has been affected by the disease. 01/02/2009 Joseph Witalis
Diagnostic tests of Multiple Myeloma has not been added yet
The treatment of Multiple Myeloma ranges from chemotherapy to focused beam radiation to autologous stem cell transplantation. Standard first-line chemotherapy has long been Melphalan (a nitrogen mustard) combined with Prednisone, a steroid medication. Recent developments in treatments have brought the use of intermittent high-dose decamethasone (Decadon); and even more recently new medications such as Revlimid. Older medications are being tried with MM as a new application, with some success. This is true of Thalidomide, the same drug that caused serious birth defects decades ago, but which is showing some promise in extending the survival of some MM patients. Focused beam radiation is used to treat painful bone lesions that form as a result of tumour activity, often in the spine. Radiation often results in quick relief from pain. The "gold standard" of treatment for Multiple Myeloma has been the use of autologous blood stem-cell transplantation, also known as "stem cell rescue." In that treatment, the patient is first assessed for comprehensive health status (can he / she safely tolerate the treatment?). In preparation for transplantation, the patient receives a course of chemotherapy to reduce the tumour burden and to take advantage of the body's signaling system to produce new blood cells, as chemotherapy reduces them at the same time as reducing malignant plasma cells. At this point, the patient may receive blood-production stimulating medication. This process is called "mobilization." After mobilization, the patient undergoes a process called "harvesting." This is when their blood is circulated through a special piece of equipment resembling a dialysis machine, which separates the blood cells from the blood stem cells, which are then collected and stored until ready to be returned to the patient. It is important that sufficient stem cells be harvested to ensure that there will be enough to re-populate the bone marrow with blood-cell producing cells. Following the successful harvesting of the patient's blood stem cells, the patient will undergo another course of chemotherapy with or without Total Body Irradiation. (radiation is not used presently as much as it once was). The intent at this step is to rid the body of as much of the marrow cells as possible, At that point, the patient may be essentially bloodless, requiring transfusion of red cells or of platelets. Recent transplant procedure have reduced the need for extensive transfusions. As soon as this step is completed, the patient is ready to receive the stem-cells previous harvested. This is the "rescue" part of the procedure.They are thawed (if frozen) and infused through a venous line into the patient's circulation, where they travel until lodging in the stroma of the bone arrow and begin to mature into blood cell progenitors. The patient often reports smelling creamed corn at this point, due to the exhalation of preservative factors that had been mixed with the stored stem cells. Other treatments such as gene therapy may be promising in the future, and researchers are working toward a number of other therapies based on an ever-increasing understanding of how multiple myeloma works. 01 / 10 / 09 Joseph Witalis
Prognosis of Multiple Myeloma has not been added yet.
Name Description
Joseph Before you make any decisions, first determine if you really want to survive the illness, and for your own reasons - not for somebody else. Then, find a copy of "The Cancer Conqueror" by Greg Andersen. Read it. Then get a copy of "50 Things to do When the Doctor Says 'It's Cancer,'" also by Greg Anderson. Read it. Then join a peer support group and listen to the long-term survivors of all kinds of cancers who will tell you all the normal things they do with their lives: vacations, house buying, gardens, traveling, working, and so on. They are living with, not dying of, cancer. Then do your thing.
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Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)

The mission of the MMRF is to urgently and aggressively fund research that will lead to the development of new treatments for multiple myeloma.


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Cords registry

CoRDS, or the Coordination of Rare Diseases at Sanford, is based at Sanford Research in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It provides researchers with a centralized, international patient registry for all rare diseases. This program allows patients and researchers to connect as easily as possible to help advance treatments and cures for rare diseases. The CoRDS team works with patient advocacy groups, individuals and researchers to help in the advancement of research in over 7,000 rare diseases. The registry is free for patients to enroll and researchers to access.

Enrolling is easy.

  1. Complete the screening form.
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  3. Answer the permission and data sharing questions.

After these steps, the enrollment process is complete. All other questions are voluntary. However, these questions are important to patients and their families to create awareness as well as to researchers to study rare diseases. This is why we ask our participants to update their information annually or anytime changes to their information occur.

Researchers can contact CoRDS to determine if the registry contains participants with the rare disease they are researching. If the researcher determines there is a sufficient number of participants or data on the rare disease of interest within the registry, the researcher can apply for access. Upon approval from the CoRDS Scientific Advisory Board, CoRDS staff will reach out to participants on behalf of the researcher. It is then up to the participant to determine if they would like to join the study.

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