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Common types of multiple myeloma and their treatments

By Modern60, Editorial Team

Last Updated on April 2nd, 2024

Senior Health & Wellness

Common types of multiple myeloma and their treatments

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer in which plasma cells—a type of white blood cell—start multiplying. Normally, plasma cells strengthen the body’s resilience to diseases. However, abnormal, excessive growth of plasma cells can overcrowd healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, causing various complications. Yet, the condition can be managed. Often, treatment begins with close monitoring of symptoms. Read on to learn more about the types of multiple myeloma and management options.

Types of multiple myeloma

There are various kinds of multiple myeloma based on how the condition develops. Some of the types are:

Non-secretory myeloma

Most people with myeloma have the M protein in their blood or urine.

With this type, the body does not make enough M proteins (also called myeloma protein) or light chains that are otherwise easily seen in standard myeloma tests. A bone marrow biopsy can help diagnose this condition. M protein is an abnormal protein, so its presence is a sign of disease in the body. Most people with myeloma have the M protein in their blood or urine.

Solitary plasmacytoma

Solitary plasmacytoma

The unusual growth of plasma cells leads to a tumor (plasmacytoma), which usually forms in bone or tissue. The type typically involves the growth of a single tumor. It is often seen as a precursor to multiple myeloma. This is because the presence of more than one plasmacytoma in multiple locations is called multiple myeloma.

Light chain myeloma

Light chain myeloma

When dealing with myeloma, the body produces antibodies called immunoglobulins. If it produces incomplete immunoglobulins, known as light chain antibodies, the condition is called light chain myeloma. Light chains could collect in the kidneys and cause damage in the region.

Extramedullary plasmacytoma

Extramedullary plasmacytoma

This type leads to tumors outside the bone marrow in the soft tissues in the nose, throat, larynx, or sinuses. Doctors use biopsies and scans to confirm the diagnosis of this type. Such tests can also indicate the severity and spread of cancer.

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

Like other types, MGUS involves the presence of M protein in the blood. However, a key difference is that this type does not exhibit specific myeloma symptoms. Signs of MGUS could be pain and numbness in the thighs, feet, and hands. Signs like muscle weakness, heart issues, kidney issues, and bleeding may also be seen. However, only about 20% of those living with this condition for 20 years or more tend to get active myeloma.

Some of the other common types of multiple myeloma are:

  • Immunoglobulin D (IgD) myeloma
  • Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM)
  • Immunoglobulin E (IgE) myeloma

Treatment options 

A team of experts may develop a treatment plan for the condition. The team can be made up of

  • Orthopedic surgeons
  • Radiation and medical oncologists
  • Bone marrow transplant specialists

As with many types of cancer, treatments can help manage and slow down multiple myeloma. Often, doctors recommend chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant, among other measures, for dealing with multiple myeloma. Some of the other options they use to manage the condition are:

Local treatments

Doctors may recommend local treatments like surgery and radiation. They target the tumor without affecting the rest of the body. This type of treatment can work well in the early stages of the disease.

Systemic treatments

Systemic or prescription treatments are also standard options for managing multiple myeloma. Some examples of this type of treatment are:

  • Stem cell transplants
  • Supportive treatments
  • CAR T-cell therapy

All options can be combined or used one after the other. But, their outcomes can vary. The results are often based on the cancer stage and the time of diagnosis.

Side effects of treatments

Multiple myeloma treatment primarily aims to get rid of cancer cells. But, it may have side effects, i.e., harmful effects on healthy cells. That’s why discussing the risks and benefits of each option with a doctor is crucial before starting with treatment. 

The side effects can vary depending on the type of therapy. Yet, here are a few common ones to know:

  • Diarrhea
  • Infection
  • Hair loss 
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Bruising
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Renal dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Back pain
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • Cough
  • Blood clots 
  • Breathing issues

Given these risks, it is vital to discuss all possible outcomes, multiple myeloma life expectancy by stage, and prognosis of this disease with a doctor. Research indicates that around 85% of those with multiple myeloma will survive the disease for a year or more after the diagnosis. Also, exploring suitable treatments can help. The right options can help control symptoms and even slow disease progression.

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Editorial Team

The Editorial Team at Modern60 is a group of highly skilled professionals with diverse backgrounds in journalism, content creation, editing, and digital media. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise to ensure that every piece of content meets our strict editorial guidelines and quality standards. The team is dedicated to delivering accurate, well-researched, and engaging content across various subjects, including health, wellness, lifestyle, and current events. With their commitment to upholding the highest standards of journalism and content creation, the Modern60 Editorial Team is the driving force behind our mission to empower and inspire our readers.

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