If you can call someone who gets a rare form of cancer lucky, then Deb Graff says she fits the bill. At age 72, Graff has survived nine years with multiple myeloma , a blood cancer whose life expectancy used to be measured in months.
As active multiple myeloma gets worse, you’ll likely feel sicker, with fatigue or bone pain . You may have anemia, bleeding problems, or a lot of infections. Other symptoms of advanced multiple myeloma include unusual fractures, shortness of breath, weakness , feeling very thirsty, and belly pain.
New effective treatments including thalidomide, bortezomib, and lenalidomide have replaced the former standard melphalan-prednisone (MP). MPT and melphalan-prednisone-bortezomib are the reference treatments for elderly patients ineligible for high-dose therapy.
Multiple myeloma isn’t considered “curable,” but symptoms wax and wane. There can be a long period of dormancy that could last several years. However, this cancer usually recurs. There are several types of myeloma .
The overall 5-year survival rate for people with multiple myeloma is 54%. For the 5% of people who are diagnosed at an early stage, the 5-year survival rate is almost 74%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 51%.
The SEER(Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) data for multiple myeloma has been published in 2013 by the National Cancer Institute, and the average life expectancy remains at 4 years for the third year in a row. However, some people beat the odds and live 10 to 20 years or more.
The most common cause of death related to multiple myeloma is infection, with pneumonia being the most common fatal infection. Other common causes of death are bleeding (from low platelet counts), complications of bone fractures, kidney failure, and blood clots in the lungs.
The focus of end of life care is to help patients manage their symptoms so that they are experiencing the best possible quality of life. The most common symptoms at this stage include pain, fatigue , loss of appetite/anorexia, constipation , nausea and vomiting.
Hyperdiploid- Myeloma cells have more chromosomes than normal. This occurs in about 45% of myeloma patients and is less aggressive . Hypodiploid– Myeloma cells have fewer chromosomes than normal. This occurs in about 40% of myeloma patients and is more aggressive .
Treatment with a bone-modifying drug is recommended for up to 2 years. At 2 years, treatment may be stopped if it is working. If the myeloma comes back and new bone problems develop, treatment with a bone-modifying drug is usually started again.
Durie-Salmon Staging In this system, there are three stages of myeloma : Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III. The stage depends on factors including: The amount of myeloma cells in the body. The amount of damage the myeloma cells have caused to the bone.
If left untreated , excess amounts of myeloma protein can cause kidney damage or even renal failure.
Once a death sentence , myeloma patients are living much longer now. Over the past few years, myeloma research has reached an unprecedented level of advancement. The number of approved therapies for treatment of myeloma is expanding, and drugs like bortezomib and lenalidomide have transformed the landscape of survival.
However, triggers or causes related to multiple myeloma may include toxic chemicals, radiation, some viruses, immune disorders, and family history of the disease or other related problems like MGUS .
IgE multiple myeloma causes the same signs and symptoms as other types of multiple myeloma . It tends to be aggressive and progresses to plasma cell leukemia or spreads outside the bone marrow quickly. A protein in blood that acts like an antibody to fight infection.