Multiple Myeloma

What is multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a malignant disorder that involves plasma cells growing uncontrollably. Plasma cells usually reside in the bone marrow and produce antibodies that protect against infections. Although multiple myeloma affects the bones, it is not bone cancer. In this disorder, cells usually produce very high levels of immunoglobulins (antibodies produced by the plasma cells that typically destroy bacteria) that are dysfunctional.

What causes multiple myeloma?
The exact cause of multiple myeloma is unknown, but researchers speculate the cause to be contributed to a decline in the immune system, genetic factors, certain occupations, certain viruses, exposure to certain chemicals including Agent Orange, and exposure to radiation. Few cases in Jordan are familial (inherited).

What are the symptoms of multiple myeloma?
• Bone pain
• Bone fractures
• Anemia
• General weakness and fatigue
• Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood) is a typical feature and usually presents with fatigue, constipation, abdominal pain and in severe cases, altered mental status.

How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?
At KHCC, physicians use a variety of diagnostic techniques and procedures to correctly diagnose multiple myeloma, including:
• Blood work: complete blood count (CBC) test, kidney function test, calcium level test, serum protein electrophoresis.
• Urine collection for 24 hours for certain proteins called Bence Jones protein
• X-rays of the bones including skull, long bones and the spine to detect typical bone lesions
• MRI for patients with back pain or weakness in lower limbs due to compression on spinal cord
 
How is multiple myeloma treated at KHCC?
It is very difficult to achieve a cure for multiple myeloma, but with treatment many people can return to a near normal lifestyle. At KHCC, physicians waste no time in helping multiple myeloma patients get their disease under control and teach them how to manage it effectively. Immunomodulating and biological therapies are the most common types of treatment for multiple myeloma. Patients who do not initially display any symptoms are usually observed until symptoms develop. In patients who experience symptoms, steroids and radiation therapy can achieve good control of these symptoms. Many physicians use drugs called bisphosphonates that help in restoring the structure of the bone. Other modalities of treatment include: stem cell transplantation to treat some forms of this disease.  At KHCC, patients below the age of 65 years are offered this approach taking in consideration many other factors, and the treating physicians always take great care to balance the risk and benefits of treatment.

Physicians
At KHCC, multiple myeloma patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating multiple myeloma.

Supportive Care
The myeloma multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that multiple myeloma patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: