Multiple Myeloma Complications
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation | Sep 14th 2016 Jun 1st 2017
How Multiple Myeloma Affects the Body
The complications of multiple myeloma stem from myeloma’s effect on the body as well as its symptoms. As the myeloma cells grow in excess, they disrupt normal cell production, which can result in numerous health complications. The exact complications of multiple myeloma will vary by individual; however, multiple myeloma primarily affects the bones, the blood and the kidneys.
Bone loss is the most common complication of multiple myeloma, and 85% of patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma typically have some degree of bone loss. The most commonly affected bones are the spine, pelvis, and rib cage. Bone loss in myeloma patients may be treated with bisphosphonates or radiation therapy.
The growing number of myeloma cells can interfere with the production of all types of blood cells. Decreased red blood cell production can result in anemia, which is present in approximately 60% of patients at diagnosis.
Excess M protein and calcium in the blood overwork the kidneys as they filter blood. The amount of urine produced may decrease, and the kidneys may fail to function normally.
Impaired immune system
The number of myeloma cells also impacts the production of white blood cells. Reduced levels of infection fighting white blood cells leads to myeloma patients are especially prone to infection. In addition, the abnormal antibodies produced by myeloma cells may crowd out normal antibodies, resulting in a weakened immune system. Several preventative steps may be taken to decrease the risk of infections for multiple myeloma patients.