This is a type of cancer which affects the blood and the bone marrow. It is the second most widespread type of blood cancer. The first position of that dubious distinction goes to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The American Cancer Society estimates that 20,180 new cases of multiple myeloma were diagnosed in 2010.
Multiple myeloma symptoms are more prevalent in the African race than the Caucasian race. The cancer develops predominantly in the bone marrow which is the spongy and soft center in a bone where blood cells are produced.
Typically the marrow in the spine, pelvic bones, ribs, shoulders and hips gets afflicted. Myeloma affects the plasma cells that produce antibodies to fight external infection in the body. In multiple myelomanormal plasma cells get turned into malignant and abnormal myeloma cells that produces large amount of an abnormal immunoglobulin. The malignant cells throw out the normal cells and attack the bone to make it soft. This is one of the physical symptoms of the disease.
Physical multiple myeloma symptoms
Multiple myeloma symptoms are seen predominantly on the bones, in the blood and in the kidneys. As described above the bone marrow produces a malignant plasma cell which attacks the bone from within. This results in the softening of the bones. Secondly the malignant cells also prevent the normal process of growth and repair in the bone so a process called osteolytic lesions takes place. This shows up on an x-ray like a hole in the bone.
The malignant cells travel to the blood from the bone marrow. Here they cause all kinds of problems including affecting production of blood cells, reducing white blood cells to cause leucopenia, increasing the risk of infection from external sources, reducing the blood platelet count to cause thrombocytopenia and reducing red blood cells to cause anemia. Basically little by little the cancerous cells keep growing in the blood and the normal blood gets depleted.
Complications from multiple myeloma symptoms
The bones tend to soften and gain holes internally in this disease. Due to this the bone is easy to fracture. The over activity of the kidney due to the calcium being leached into the blood stream can lead to the kidneys packing up with renal failure. Symptoms associated with this include a loss of appetite, muscle fatigue, constipation, lot of thirst, more urine production, maybe even nausea and vomiting.
The blood being contaminated with malignant cells can cause all kinds of complications such as hyperviscosity syndrome that will make the nervous system dysfunctional. Cryoglobulinemia may occur. This means that a paraprotien in the blood may separate from the solution and become small particles that can end up blocking the smaller blood vessels. This causes pain and numbness in the extremities of the fingers and toes.