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Myeloma (cont.)

What Are Complications of Myeloma?

Other complications of myeloma may include the following:

  • Cryoglobulinemia: People with this rare condition produce a protein that precipitates, or falls out of solution, when the blood is exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Amyloidosis: This rare complication occurs mostly in people whose myeloma produces the light chain components of immunoglobulins. The light chains combine with other substances in the blood to form a sticky protein called amyloid, which impairs the function of whichever organ in which it may accumulate.

Is It Possible to Prevent Myeloma? What Is the Prognosis of Myeloma?

Patient Comments

After primary therapy for myeloma is complete, all appropriate diagnostic tests, including bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, are repeated to determine how well the therapy worked.

  • The results of these tests will determine whether a remission has occurred.
  • If the patient is in remission, the oncologist will recommend a schedule of regular testing and follow-up visits to monitor the remission and identify early relapse.
  • Maintaining constant vigil via follow-up exams and tests is no less important than the therapy itself.

For cases in which myeloma does not go into complete remission after treatment, or if it recurs after treatment, the hematologist/oncologist will likely recommend further treatment.

There is no known way to prevent myeloma. A standard recommendation is to avoid the risk factors for the disease, but little is known concerning the risk factors for myeloma.

The outlook for myeloma has somewhat improved over the past few decades as treatment has improved. However, the overall 5-year survival rate is about 30%, and nearly 11,000 people in the United States die of myeloma per year.

Are There Support Groups for Myeloma?

Living with myeloma presents many new challenges for an affected individual and his or her family and friends. There may be many worries about how myeloma will affect someone and his or her ability to "live a normal life," that is, to care for family and home, to hold a job, and to continue the friendships and activities one enjoys.

Many people may feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated. For most people with myeloma, talking about their feelings and concerns can be helpful.

  • Friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support for a variety of reasons. If the affected person wishes to talk about their concerns, it is important to let them know to do so.
  • Some people don't want to "burden" their loved ones, or they prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if one wishes to discuss his or her feelings and concerns about having myeloma. The hematologist or oncologist should be able to recommend someone.
  • Talking to other people who have myeloma profoundly helps many people with myeloma. Sharing concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups of people with myeloma may be available through the medical center where one is receiving treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups all over the United States.

For more information about support groups, contact the following agencies:

  • American Cancer Society, 800-ACS-2345
  • National Cancer Institute, Cancer Information Service, 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237]); TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers) 800-332-8615
  • International Myeloma Foundation, 800-452-2873
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 914-949-5213, http://www.lls.org

Medically reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Medical Oncology

REFERENCES:

"Clinical features, laboratory manifestations, and diagnosis of multiple myeloma"
UpToDate.com

"Overview of the management of multiple myeloma"
UpToDate.com

Shah, D. "Multiple Myeloma Treatment & Management." Medscape.com. Feb. 5, 2016. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/204369-treatment#d7>.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/1/2016
Medical Reviewer:

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Myeloma:

Myeloma - Treatment

What was the treatment for your myeloma?

Myeloma - Prevention and Outlook

What prevention measures do you use to avoid getting myeloma?

Myeloma - Experience

Please describe your experience with myeloma.

Multiple Myeloma - Symptoms

The symptoms of multiple myeloma can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?


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