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Multiple Myeloma

AMBULATORY CARE:

Multiple myeloma

is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell. Plasma cells make antibodies to help your body fight infection. You may have high amounts of plasma cells that do not work correctly. Your body may make so many plasma cells or antibodies that they damage your bones and other healthy tissue.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Bone pain, most commonly in the lower back, pelvis, or ribs
  • Frequent infections
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue, weakness, or confusion
  • Constipation or difficulty urinating
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Shortness of breath

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have sudden chest pain, pounding or racing heartbeat, or shortness of breath.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You had a bad fall and you may have broken a bone.
  • You feel dizzy or faint.
  • You cannot think clearly.
  • You feel weak or numb on one side of your body.

Call your doctor if:

  • You are vomiting repeatedly and cannot keep food down.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • Your pain is worse or does not go away after you take pain medicine.
  • You cannot control your urine or bowel movements.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for multiple myeloma

will depend on your symptoms and the stage of cancer. The stage will depend on how much your bone and kidneys are involved, and the level of calcium and proteins in your blood. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you have frequent tests and regular follow-up visits to watch for changes. You may also need one or more of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to stop myeloid cells from growing and to kill new cancer cells. Medicines may also help strengthen your immune system.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading. It may be given alone or with chemotherapy.
  • A transplant is a procedure to give bone marrow or stem cells through an IV. The stem cells go to your bone marrow and begin to make new, healthy blood cells.

Prevent bleeding and bruising:

  • Do not use sharp objects. Use an electric razor to shave. Use a nail file to keep your nails short and smooth.
  • Care for your mouth. Use a soft toothbrush. Do not floss your teeth while your platelet count is low. Do not use toothpicks.
  • Choose light activities. Avoid any activity that may cause chest pain or trouble breathing. Do not play contact sports, such as football or soccer.
  • Blow your nose gently. Do not pick your nose. Your nose may bleed if you pick it.

Self-care:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food. Avoid people who are sick and ask about other ways to help prevent infection.
    Handwashing
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can damage blood vessels. This can make it harder to manage your symptoms. Smoking also increases your risk for new or returning cancer and delays healing after treatment. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can thin your blood and make it easier to bleed.
  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Exercise regularly. Multiple myeloma or its treatment may make you feel tired. Exercise can help you have more energy. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes or vitamins. Tell your healthcare provider if you have problems eating, or if you are nauseated.

Follow up with your oncologist as directed:

You may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Multiple Myeloma (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Medicine.com Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.