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How Does Multiple Myeloma Affect the Bones?
Multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer that affects the blood’s plasma cells. Plasma cells (not to be confused with liquid blood plasma) are a type of white blood cell that secretes antibodies. Their function makes them an integral part of the body’s defense mechanism.
When cancer affects parts of the body’s defense, the effects can change a person’s quality of life. Some of those changes affect the bones.
Understanding multiple myeloma
Research is yet to come up with a singular cause for the plasma cell mutations that translate to multiple myeloma. What is certain is that one abnormal plasma cell stays alive longer than it should. The cell multiplies and causes a buildup in the bone marrow, the structure that produces blood cells.
This large number of abnormal cells takes up space in the bone marrow, slowing the production of other kinds of blood cells. Now, remember the job of healthy plasma cells is to produce antibodies if the body needs to be defended. Abnormal plasma cells produce abnormal, unusable antibodies that only clog the system while straining the kidneys.
The effects of multiple myeloma range from mild, to moderate to debilitating. They are:
- Weakness, fatigue, and or/ a loss of alertness
- A weak immune system that presents as frequent infections
- Digestive problems like constipation, along with loss of appetite
- Constant thirst and/or nausea
- Pain in the bones of the spine, hips, and chest
It is worth noting that this illness often affects older males.
The last symptom on the list above has to do with bone tissue. Here is the effect of multiple myeloma on the bones:
The effect of multiple myeloma on the bones
Abnormal plasma cells start by affecting the bone marrow. From there, the bone tissue is the first to feel the effects of these cancerous cells.
The very first bones to feel the effects of the cancer are the ones with the most bone marrow activity. These are the ribs, vertebrae, and pelvic bones. Here are the different ways that this cancer affects the structure and overall health of the bones:
1. Bone lesions
Malfunctioning plasma cells produce malfunctioning antibodies that may attack the body. Between overwhelming the bone marrow and producing flawed antibodies, cancerous plasma cells damage bone. The result is bone lesions and, in some cases, tumors.
Doctors will often treat the lesions with radiology and other non-surgical interventions. They will also craft a pain relief regimen to keep the patient comfortable.
2. Loss of bone mass
This is the second effect of bone marrow that is under attack. Bone tissues will fail to replace the minerals it loses to normal bodily functions like resorption.
Doctors counter this effect by prescribing supplements and therapies that provide helper minerals like phosphorus. This approach stimulates the absorption of calcium and eventually, bone regrowth.
Reach out today
Our practice boasts a team with vast experience in the treatment and management of multiple myeloma. We provide monitoring, first-line care, and treatment therapies for patients living with this rare form of cancer.
Get in touch with us to find out how we can provide support and improve your quality of life.
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