Multiple Myeloma Detection

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Multiple myeloma detection is a must during early stages of this cancer. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. They exhibit abnormal behavior by dividing, growing and spreading in an uncontrolled and rapid manner. These cells produce high number of antibodies and proteins that cause imbalance in the immune system. This damages organs and the sites at which these cells are produced, chiefly the bones.

Symptoms of multiple myeloma: Detection of multiple myeloma starts with the observation of symptoms of multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma causes damage to delicate and vital organs such as kidneys and the stomach. This throws the digestive system off the track. Bone damage increases calcium content in the blood. Both of these effects are responsible for most of the symptoms which can help in early detection of the cancer. These symptoms are:

  1. Digestive disorders lead to weakness, fatigue, anemia, sudden weight loss.
  2. Increase in calcium levels and production of Bence Jones proteins impair renal activity. This shows up as changes in urine frequency and problems during bowel movements.
  3. As normal bone marrow cells are overtaken by abnormal cancer cells, bone damage occurs leading to fractures and bone lesions.
  4. Bone damage also shows up as pain. For example, spinal bone damage leads to back pain. Patients often complain of joint pain or pain radiating from other organs

The mnemonic CRAB helps remember the four main symptoms of multiple myeloma viz. C-Calcium at high level, R-Renal disturbance, A-Anemia and weakness, B-Bone lesions and bone damage.

Based on these symptoms, doctors advise tests to detect the presence of multiple myeloma and to rule out possibility of other diseases. Detection of multiple myeloma is important to decide the status of the cancer. Early detection helps increase the longevity of the patient. It decides the course of the multiple myeloma treatment. Early detection of multiple myeloma plays a crucial role in preventing the recurrence of multiple myeloma and helps manage organ damage due to multiple myeloma. Detection not only focuses on multiple myeloma presence but also discovers damage to various organs. Various tests such as blood tests, bone biopsy, urine tests, x-ray tests and MRI (magnetic resonance scanning) are used to decide the presence of multiple myeloma.

Blood and urine tests: Multiple myeloma produces a huge number of plasma cells which in turn leads to higher levels of certain proteins or antibodies. Detection of these proteins in your body points to multiple myeloma. Paraproteins electrophoresis test is used to detect the presence of such proteins. These tests can show the presence of proteins known as M-proteins or monoclonal proteins. They can detect the levels of immunoglobulins or glycoprotein's such as IgA, lgG and IgM.

Some well known paraproteins electrophoresis tests include SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (Also known as PAGE, or SDS-electrophoresis) and electro focusing, free flow electrophoresis, affinity electrophoresis, isotachophoresis, immunoelectrophoresis, counter electrophoresis, capillary electrophoresis and immunoelectrophoresis

Bone tests: Multiple myeloma weakens bone structure. This leads to internal fractures or bone deformities such as bone lesions. To check for such damage a sample of the bone is taken out surgically. Microscopic examination of these bone marrow cells shows presence of abnormal antibodies and plasma cells

X-Ray and MRI Scan: X-ray and MRI show the skeletal structure composed of the bones. X-rays and MRI can show bone damage, fractures and any changes in bone density or thickness

Serum creatinine and calcium level tests: Serum creatinine and calcium levels are elevated in multiple myeloma. These tests show the increase or decrease in calcium or serum creatinine.

Genetic tests: Nowadays, thorough genetic tests are carried to seek abnormalities in chromosomes and genes. Presence of these abnormalities can provide details about the multiple myeloma making treatment easier

Other tests: Plasma cell labeling index test or PCLI and barium swallow tests is used routinely to detect protein and plasma cell levels and damage to softer tissues and organs such as kidneys or stomach

Thus, these tests can accurately predict the spread of multiple myeloma. Based on these tests, doctors decide the course of treatment. Thus multiple myeloma detection plays and important part in treating the cancer. Do go in for regular checkups.

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