Many people call it Bone Cancer - but, infact, the correct term is Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the white cells, leading to pressure and cracking of your bones.
This multiple myeloma overview and associated articles will give you everything you need to know to help you increase your personal odds of beating multiple myeloma - the symptoms, the diagnosis, and all the latest options on cancer - from cancer drugs and chemotherapy to surgery, radiotherapy and complementary cancer therapies; including all the very latest alternative cancer treatments and newcancer treatments too. We will even cover the causes and multiple myeloma prevention.
This article has been compiled by Chris Woollams from worldwide research and expert sources*
Read the whole article below or just select the part(s) that you are interested in from the list below and click onto that page.
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What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow. A major function of the bone marrow is to produce the white and red cells of the blood and lymph.
The white cells are commonly associated with the immune, or defence, system. In MM certain of them (called plasma cells and normally accounting for less than 3 per cent of all the white cells) become abnormal and multiply rapidly. Plasma cells normally produce infection-fighting antibodies called immunoglobulins.
In MM they produce a protein antibody which doesnt work and cannot fight infection. It often weakens the other white cells too. Myeloma cells can also spread into the bone itself causing it to weaken. And their over-production can result in 10 per cent of all the bone marrow cells being plasma cells and this overcrowding weakens the other blood cells.
Overall effects therefore include:
- a weakening of the immune system
- a reduction in the production of oxygen-carrying red cells
- a build up of protein in the blood
- a weakening of the bones, particularly in the back and ribs, causing pain
MM is a rare cancer, hitherto felt to be incurable. Nowadays modern drugs and other techniques have helped control the disease in the body, allowing people to live with the disease in much the same way as, say, diabetes, and increasing survival times significantly.
MM is one of a number of related blood disorders called monoclonal gammopathies; Monoclonal means that a single family (a clone) of identical plasma cells is causing the disease, while gammopathy denotes that the production of immunoglobulins is abnormally high.
Systemic light-chain amyloidosis (AL) is a rare and often fatal variant as are the far less serious conditions of plasmacytoma and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).
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In the early stages there may be no symptoms, but eventually the symptoms come from the main problems:
Immune depletion: a tendency to minor infections especially urinary and respiratory
Bone weakness: pain in the back or ribs; and even unexplained fractures. Pain in movement and arthritis-like symptoms
Increased blood-protein levels: Bruising, nosebleeds, dizziness, headaches and even vision loss as protein levels build in the blood.
Lowered red cells: Fatigue, anaemia and weight loss. Loss of kidney performance, increase liquid in lower limbs with resulting heaviness and tiredness.
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Routine blood tests can quickly diagnose the disease often before any symptoms have appeared. Doctors look for increased levels of immunoglobulin proteins, levels of normal red and white cells and kidney function, while both blood and urine samples can show increased protein levels
Imaging tests can not only diagnose MM but help determine the extent of disease throughout the body, its locations and how active it is. X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) may be used for this.
Bone marrow aspiration and needle biopsy may also be used to show the percentage of plasma cells in the bone marrow.
In some cases oncologists may also perform chromosome tests on bone marrow.
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A number of causes have been indicated although nothing is proven and there may be several ways of developing the disease called Multiple Myeloma. Basically it seems to be caused by toxins chemical or biological.
In some cases these result in chromosome damage, but in the majority this is not the case. However, where there is chromosomal damage, outcomes are poorer.
Links to toxins have been indicated in several worldwide studies:
Pesticides, fertilisers and chemical toxins There is a growing concern that pesticides and fertilisers can cause disorders of the blood. Papers have been produced by the EU and by IARC to this effect. Epidemology studies show a higher incidence of MM amongst farmers, chemical workers, sheet metal workers and others exposed to environmental toxins.
Some people seem to have genetic factors that make them more susceptible to such chemical toxins and even the use of everyday household chemicals and toiletry products has been questioned in the EU parliament and the California legislature.
Parasites including yeasts: Parasites (including viruses, bacteria and yeasts) weaken the body, steal important nutrients and in some cases produce debilitating toxins. Some have been linked to blood disorders and cancer. For example the case of an American Nurse who was eventually found not to have cancer, but bad yeast infection killing the yeasts cured her and 27 per cent of the children in the child leukaemia ward she looked after.
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Multiple Myeloma is not considered curable, but is treatable. The treatments can be several and depend upon individual conditions. New drugs are coming on stream all the time. However in the past some people have looked for alternative treatments considering the benefits of the orthodox therapies not worth the rigours of treatment. For information on your Cancer Drugs and chemotherapy click here.
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While patients should most definitely avoid compromising their oncologists recommended treatment programmes, there is an argument for taking some extra, precautionary steps around them. For example:
- By cutting out exposure to environmental chemicals and pesticides
- Eating organic foods from a known source
- Choosing a manufacturer of toxin-free household and personal care products
- Avoiding in-home pesticides, herbicides and even animal parasite treatments (like some flea collars)
- Avoiding local pollution to your living environment e.g. living near a factory chimney, a garage forecourt, a mast, a chemical or steel plant, surround by fields using pesticide sprays etc
E Avoiding contact with heavy metals such as cadmium or mercury (in many vaccines)
2. By detoxing your body of these possible contaminants
- Selenium (200 micrograms) has been shown to displace certain heavy metals
- The consumption of foods high in lignans, and green foods like chlorella have been shown to bind to certain heavy metals and chemical toxins, and with adequate levels of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, clinical trials have shown these can be eliminated.
- Other Clinical Trials have shown that foods containing Indole-3-carbinol (e.g. broccoli) can displace chemicals and even dangerous dioxins
3. By ensuring you have no parasites, nor excesses of yeasts
- Parasites may be killed off with the use of a Chinese herb called wormwood, and a natural combination of herbs in a product called Parafree, by Neways
- Yeasts may be killed off by combining natural yeast killers, with an anti-yeast diet
Yeast Killers: Pau Darco, cinnamon, garlic, oregano, caprylic acid, wormwood
Anti-yeast diet avoid all sugar, alcohol, dairy, yeast products like marmite and mushrooms. Avoid eating fruit after a meal, and eating courgettes, marrows and squash because these ferment.
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The GERSON Therapy
Readers may know the story of the Oxford Don, Michael Gearin-Tosh, who back in the mid 1990s felt that the drugs on offer then were not worth the bother, and after much research, opted for the Gerson Therapy an alternative, diet based therapy involving the consumption of organic foods (as juices or whole), no meat, fish, animal fat, and no processed or packaged foods. The therapy also involves the use of coffee enemas to dilate the bile ducts and encourage the excretion of toxins. Michael lived fully for ten years before dying of an unrelated illness. On this web site we review his book (Living Proof a medical mutiny) click here and have several articles on Gerson.
It is not hard to see why the Gerson Therapy might have a positive effect on patients with this cancer as it is a naturally cleansing therapy. Importantly, it does not have to be seen as an alternative to orthodox therapies.
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Currently no treatment approach is considered to be a cure for MM. Current orthodox therapies do slow the progression of the disease prolonging survival, and alleviating the symptoms. New drugs and improvements are coming on stream all the time. For information on your Cancer Drugs and chemotherapy click here.
Observation - In the early stages of the disease with few symptoms, doctors may decide to wait and watch. If protein levels rise, or anaemia occurs then they will take action.
Overall - Chemotherapy is then often used in combination with steroids, like pred nisolone and methylprednisolone. Other drugs called bisposphonates may be used specifically for your bones. You may be offered any of the following drugs:
Bisphosphonates e.g. pamidronate (Aredia) or zoledronic acid (Zometa), are prescribed to help to alleviate bone pain and to slow bone loss. They can also repair bone tissue and reduce excess the calcium that often occurs in MM.
Dexamethasone - This is a potent steroid and may be used alone or in combination with other medicines like doxorubicin in the early stages of the disease.
Melphalan, cyclophosphamide, vinicristine, doxorubicin are drugs most commonly used, sometimes in combinations. All provide limited control, have side effects and are covered on our web site.
Thalidomide this drug became infamous as a medicine used in the late 1950s as a sleeping pill and to combat the nausea some women experience in pregnancy. It was found to cause birth defects by cutting blood supplies and was banned. However, those properties seemed appropriate in the fight against cancer and in the 1990s researchers discovered that thalidomide could be used to treat myeloma.
Newer versions of thalidomide, e.g. lenalidomide (Revlimid), are more potent with fewer side effects than thalidomide. The drugs seem to both inhibit plasma cell growth in the bone marrow and directly promote the death of cancer cells. In the USA doctors use the combination of lenalidomide with low-dose dexamethasone for many newly diagnosed patients, or for people who have relapsed.
Interferon: Sometimes interferon may be used after chemotherapy as a treatment to maintain the status of remission. We have articles on Interferon click here to read them.
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Bortezomib (Velcade) is the first in a completely new class of drugs called Proteasome Inhibitors (PIs). Proteasomes are found within all cells and their role is to break down proteins. This makes them essential in a host of normal cellular processes like gene expression and message carrying. Research has shown that inhibiting proteasome activity in cancer cells seems to block cell proliferation and increase apoptosis or cell death. Currently bortezomib is approved in the USA for patients with resistant or relapsed myeloma. Hospitals such as Sloan-Kettering in New York have high hopes for PI drugs and are investigating one called carfilzomib.
More than half of the patients in clinical trials have achieved complete or near-complete responses. This then allows Doctors to use stem cell transplantation as the target population of myeloma cells is smaller and can be overcome more easily.
Stem Cell therapy - High-dose chemotherapy combined with stem cell transplantation is becoming a standard US therapy for patients with myeloma and has been shown to greatly prolong survival. It is also used by the Karolinska in Sweden and is gaining popularity. It is an extreme treatment. Stem cells the bodys general precursor cells -- are obtained from the bloodstream or bone marrow and frozen. The patient can then receive a high dose of chemotherapy that destroys all the white cells including the tumour cells but also most or all of the stem cells in the patients bone marrow.
The patient can then have infusions of the frozen stem cells back into his/her body and bones and rebuild his immune and blood systems.
This procedure involves spending at least three weeks in hospital and recovery takes several months. Two consecutive transplants two to four months apart have been shown to prolong survival greatly.
Researchers at Sloan-Kettering, New York are currently investigating tools such as microarray analysis (a test that reveals which genes are mutated) that will help doctors to profile an individual patients cancer and determine the therapy to which a patient is most likely to respond.
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There is an excellent interview answering many of the questions you will have on the MD Anderson Cancer Centre web site (http://www.patientpower.info/transcripts/mda111307.pdf). The interview can be downloaded as a video or as a transcript.
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