Complications of Multiple Myeloma
As if a diagnosis of multiple myeloma isn’t bad enough, it can come with some pretty serious and uncomfortable complications. Healthline lists four main complications, starting with frequent infections. “As myeloma cells crowd out healthy plasma cells, your body becomes less able to fight infections,” writes the source. It can also cause anemia, which is a result of the normal blood cells being pushed out of the bone marrow and replaced with cancer cells. This is what leads to blood problems.
Multiple myeloma can also cause bone problems, including pain and weakened or broken bones. It can also lead to reduced kidney function, which means “M proteins are harmful antibodies produced by the myeloma cancer cells,” writes Healthline. “They can damage your kidneys, cause problems with kidney function, and eventually lead to kidney failure,” adds the source. In addition to all this, bones that are damaged and eroding can cause your blood calcium levels to increase, which interferes with the kidney’s ability to filter waste.
Multiple myeloma is typically diagnosed one of two ways, it’s either found accidentally when testing the blood for a completely different condition or when a doctor might suspect this condition based on the signs and symptoms of the patient. There are several different tests or procedures that are available to help determine whether or not a patient has this disease.
The first and easiest is a blood test, says the Mayo Clinic. “Laboratory analysis of your blood may reveal the M proteins produced by the myeloma cells,” writes the source. “Another abnormal protein produced by the myeloma cells — called beta-2-microglobulin — may be detected in your blood and give your doctor clues about the aggressiveness of your myeloma.” Blood tests can also determine how the kidneys are functioning, blood cell counts, calcium levels, and uric acid levels.
The patient can also have a urine test which could also show M proteins (also known as Bence Jones proteins). The doctor could examine the patient’s bone marrow by taking a sample for testing. This sample is extracted using a long needle that is inserted into a bone. The bone is then tested for myeloma cells. Lastly, this condition can be diagnosed with imaging tests, such as an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or positron emission tomography (PET) scan, says the Mayo Clinic.