Multiple Myeloma – Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell. Plasma cells normally produce antibodies that help the body fight infections. In multiple myeloma, these plasma cells become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably, producing abnormal antibodies. These abnormal plasma cells can then form tumors in the bone marrow and other parts of the body.

Multiple myeloma is a relatively rare cancer, accounting for less than 2% of all cancer diagnoses. It is more common in older adults, with the average age of diagnosis being around 70 years old. It is slightly more common in men than women.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma can cause a range of symptoms, some of which may be subtle and develop slowly over time. Some people with multiple myeloma may not have any symptoms at all, while others may experience a combination of symptoms. Here are some of the common symptoms of multiple myeloma:

  • Bone pain: Multiple myeloma can cause bone pain, often in the back, hips, or skull.
  • Fatigue: Many people with multiple myeloma feel tired or weak, even if they get enough rest.
  • Anemia: Multiple myeloma can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
  • Increased infections: Multiple myeloma can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. This can lead to an increased risk of infections, such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections.
  • Increased thirst and urination: Multiple myeloma can affect the kidneys, leading to an increased need to drink and urinate.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Multiple myeloma can cause nausea and vomiting, often as a result of high levels of calcium in the blood.
  • Constipation: Multiple myeloma can cause constipation, often as a side effect of pain medication.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Some people with multiple myeloma may experience unexplained weight loss.
  • Confusion or difficulty thinking: In some cases, multiple myeloma can cause confusion or difficulty thinking, often as a result of high levels of calcium in the blood.

Treatments for Multiple Myeloma

Here are some common treatments for multiple myeloma:

  • Chemotherapy: This is a treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used to treat multiple myeloma, and it may be given alone or in combination with other treatments.
  • Stem cell transplant: A stem cell transplant, also called a bone marrow transplant, is a procedure in which healthy stem cells are infused into the patient’s body to replace diseased or damaged bone marrow.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. This treatment is usually used to target specific areas of the body where the cancer is located.
  • Immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs): IMiDs are a type of medication that helps to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells.
  • Proteasome inhibitors: Proteasome inhibitors are a type of medication that block the action of proteasomes, which are enzymes that break down proteins in cells. This can help to stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Monoclonal antibodies: Monoclonal antibodies are a type of medication that target specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells, which can help to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that targets specific molecules that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Multiple Myeloma in India

Multiple myeloma is a relatively rare cancer in India, but it is becoming increasingly common. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the incidence of multiple myeloma in India is estimated to be around 1.8 per 100,000 people. However, some studies suggest that this rate may be increasing.

Treatment for multiple myeloma in India is generally similar to that in other parts of the world. The choice of treatment may depend on factors such as the stage of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and the availability of medical resources. Common treatments for multiple myeloma in India include chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy.

The multiple myeloma treatment cost in India can vary depending on the type of treatment and the hospital where it is received. In India, there are public and private hospitals that provide cancer treatment, and the cost can be significantly lower in public hospitals. However, some public hospitals may have long waiting lists for treatment. It’s important for patients and their families to talk to their healthcare providers and understand the costs and options for treatment.


In recent years, there have been significant advances in the treatment of multiple myeloma, including the development of new drugs and treatment regimens. These advancements have led to improved survival rates and better quality of life for people with multiple myeloma.

However, multiple myeloma remains a complex disease, and its treatment can be challenging. It’s important for patients and their families to work closely with their healthcare providers to understand their treatment options and to develop a plan that best meets their individual needs. With proper treatment and care, many people with multiple myeloma can live for many years and maintain a good quality of life.

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