Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that disrupts the production of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells function by making antibodies which act in fighting off infections that affect the body. When multiple myeloma develops, the healthy cells of the bone marrow are overpowered by the cancer cells and this leads to the production of abnormal proteins.
There are several forms of treatment methods used to control the symptoms and the advancement of the condition. Treatment is not essential for patients who do not exhibit signs and symptoms, however, they may develop with progression and the physician will decide on the best form of treatment. Here are the common forms of treatments employed for multiple myeloma:
Chemotherapy is administered in the form of drugs that work by killing fast-growing cells that include the cancerous cells. The drugs can be taken in the form of pills or through injection into the veins. Chemotherapy comes with side effects but is the first form of treatment that is typically used for multiple myeloma.
2. Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that specifically targets the abnormalities which promote and enable the survival of cancer cells. There are several forms of targeted-therapy treatments available. The drugs act by stopping the action of the substance which breaks down the proteins. This ultimately leads to the death of multiple myeloma cells. The therapy may be administered through pills or the veins in the arms.
3. Biological therapy
Biological therapy too is given in the form of drugs and takes the support of the immune system when fighting the cancerous cells. The drugs under this therapy enhance the better working of the immune system. The cells in the immune become better equipped to identify the myeloma cells and destroy them. Biological therapy medications are usually taken in the form of pills.
4. Bone marrow transplant
Also popularly known as stem cell transplant, a bone marrow transplant is a surgical procedure. It involves replacing the affected bone marrow with a healthy form. The diseased marrow is destroyed with the aid of very high doses of chemotherapy. This is followed by a collection of blood-forming stem cells from the blood. The body is then infused with stem cells which travel to the bones and begin rebuilding the bone marrow.
5. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy works by stopping the growth of myeloma cells with the use of high beams of energy. The therapy is effective in treating a specific area while shrinking the cancerous cells.
Irrespective of the type, a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. It brings with it the uncertainty of living and stress that can be effectively coped with over time. Learning well about the treatments for multiple myeloma and their effects will aid in making more informed decisions. Also, a strong support system in the form of family and friends or a formal support group is essential to successfully deal with the anxieties that can occur during the treatment procedure. Taking time off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will prevent further worsening of the symptoms and allow better control over the condition.