Multiple myeloma is an incurable, rare and very aggressive form of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow.
Multiple myeloma accounts for about one percent of all cancers and is the second most frequent disease of blood cancer. Each year, approximately 39,000 patients with multiple myeloma are diagnosed across Europe and 24,000 deaths are reported. Approximately 37% of those diagnosed have less than 65 years of age.
"Multiple myeloma is a very complex disease that has a specific pattern of remissions, followed by relapse. For the patient, this means that the disease returns in a more aggressive form after a period of treatment, in which it feels better. Over time, the disease progresses, periods in which it is kept under control is shortened, and complications multiply.
Even though there has been substantial progress in treatment options over the last few years and many patients have been living with disease for ten years or more, multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease, "explains Prof. Daniel Coriu, Director -Central Hematology and Bone Transplant Center, Fundeni Clinical Institute.
Patient's age, disease status, aggressiveness, other associated conditions and response to treatment are factors that can influence both the quality of life of multiple myeloma patients and their life expectancy. Patients with multiple myeloma often suffer from anxiety, depression and isolation due to the stress of a life of incurable disease and the fact that they spend long periods of time in the hospital, being dependent on family help.
Innovative new treatments
"The care and treatment of patients with multiple myeloma is a challenge for doctors, because as the disease progresses, each treatment option becomes less effective and with each relapse, the treatments available are increasingly limited.
Fortunately, we have good news for retired patients who are no longer responding to previous therapy because there are innovative treatments with complex and lasting results that prolong life without disease progression. What we do, doctors, is to increase life expectancy while preserving the quality of patients' lives. This means reducing the symptoms of the disease, prolonging the remission periods and minimizing the adverse effects of a long-term treatment. ", Adds Professor Daniel Coriu.
Strong back pain
Most commonly, multiple myeloma is manifested by severe back pain, plus other symptoms, such as: repeated fractures and infections, anemia, kidney failure, vertebral compression. In many patients, the symptoms remain dormant for a long time and occur only when the disease is already at an advanced stage.
Although multiple myeloma is a disease that is difficult to diagnose, the disease can be detected by a series of usual tests, such as blood, complete blood count, calcemia, or kidney tests. Depending on their results, the physician may require more specific and in-depth investigations to confirm or invalidate the presumptive diagnosis.