Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month

Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month is observed annually in March to raise awareness about a rare type of blood cancer that develops in the bones and other parts of the body.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer that originates in the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow. In patients with myeloma, the cancerous cells multiply rapidly, crowding out healthy blood cells and causing various health issues.

These malignant cells also secrete abnormal proteins that can impair bodily functions, such as kidney function.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

The most common symptoms of multiple myeloma include:

  • Easy fatigability
  • Persistent lower back pain
  • Frequent infections and fever
  • Elevated creatinine levels in blood reports
  • Weakened bones, leading to bone pain, high calcium levels in the blood, and fractures with minimal or no trauma

Multiple myeloma is more prevalent in the elderly population, with the average age at diagnosis being 65 years and above. The disease is also more common in males than females. In India, the incidence of multiple myeloma is estimated to be around 1.8 per 100,000 population, with approximately 50,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

Diagnosis and Staging

If a person experiences the above-mentioned symptoms, it is crucial to consult an oncologist for a thorough evaluation. The diagnosis of multiple myeloma is confirmed through a bone marrow biopsy. Additionally, blood tests, imaging studies like X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, and urine analysis may be performed to assess the extent of the disease and determine the stage of myeloma.

Treatment Options

Although multiple myeloma is usually incurable in most patients, the right treatment can help achieve long-lasting remissions and improve the quality of life. The treatment approach depends on various factors, such as the patient’s age, overall health, and the stage of the disease.

  • Younger and fit patients: Induction chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplant is the preferred treatment for younger and fit patients. This involves high-dose chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells, followed by the infusion of the patient’s own stem cells to help rebuild the bone marrow.
  • Older and unfit patients: For patients who are older or unfit for transplant, chemotherapy alone is the mainstay of treatment. The treatment typically lasts for several months, after which the patients are kept under observation. Most patients tend to relapse after some time, requiring alternative treatment regimens.

Recent Advancements

In recent years, several newer advances have revolutionised the landscape of myeloma treatment. These include:

  • Anti-CD38 targeted therapies: These monoclonal antibodies, such as daratumumab and isatuximab, target the CD38 protein found on the surface of myeloma cells, leading to their destruction.
  • BCMA-CAR T cell immunotherapy: This innovative approach involves genetically modifying the patient’s own T cells to target the B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) found on myeloma cells, resulting in a potent anti-cancer response.
  • Bispecific targeted antibody therapies: These novel antibodies are designed to bind to both the myeloma cells and the patient’s immune cells, bringing them in close proximity and facilitating the destruction of the cancerous cells.



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