NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Multiple Myeloma - page 12

10
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
Multiple Myeloma, Version 1.2014
1
About multiple myeloma
Symptoms of multiple myeloma
Symptoms of multiple myeloma
In a healthy person, there are plenty of normal blood
cells and all five types of antibodies. In a person with
myeloma, too few normal blood cells are made when
the bone marrow is full of myeloma cells. Likewise,
normal antibodies are outnumbered by the one type
of flawed antibodies—M-proteins—made by the
myeloma cells. As a result, symptoms of the cancer
will appear. When myeloma is causing symptoms,
it is called active myeloma. When myeloma isn’t
causing symptoms, it is called smoldering myeloma
or asymptomatic myeloma. Common symptoms of
active myeloma include:
Fatigue and feeling weak
Fatigue is severe tiredness despite getting enough
sleep. Fatigue and feeling weak are symptoms of
anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the number of
red blood cells is low. Anemia can be caused by too
many myeloma cells crowding out red blood cells in
the bone marrow.
Bruising or bleeding easily
Platelets are blood cells that help heal wounds and
stop bleeding by forming blood clots. Bruising or
bleeding easily is a symptom of having a low number
of platelets. Too many myeloma cells in the bone
marrow can crowd out platelets.
Frequent infections and fevers
Fever is a sign that your body is trying to fight off an
infection. Frequent fever and infections is a symptom
of having too few white blood cells, but this can also
be due to low levels of normal antibodies. A low
number of white blood cells can result from too many
myeloma cells in the bone marrow.
Bone damage and pain
Myeloma cells can cause bone damage when they
crowd out normal cells in the bone marrow. They also
release (secrete) hormones that begin to break down
bone. Areas of bone damage are called bone lesions
and can be very painful. Bone lesions also weaken
bones so they may break (fracture) easily. Common
sites of bone damage from myeloma are the spine,
skull, hip bone, ribs, and shoulders.
See Figure
1.5.
The most common fracture site is the bones
(vertebrae) of the spine. Vertebral fractures can be
very painful, but they can also occur without any pain.
Kidney problems
The kidneys are a pair of organs that filter blood
to remove waste, which leaves the body in urine.
Increased or decreased urine output is a symptom of
kidney damage. The high levels of M-proteins made
by the myeloma cells can cause kidney damage.
Myeloma can damage bones, and this bone damage
causes calcium to be released into the bloodstream.
Calcium is a mineral needed for healthy bones. But,
high levels of calcium in the bloodstream can damage
the kidneys.
Figure 1.5
Common areas of bone damage by myeloma
Illustration Copyright © 2014 Nucleus Medical Media,
All rights reserved.
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