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Multiple Myeloma

Intro

Early in the disease, symptoms may be subtle. The symptoms of myeloma generally are nonspecific, meaning they may be caused by many different conditions unrelated to cancer. Any of the following warrant a visit to a health care provider:

  • Unexplained and constant pain, especially in the spine, ribs, pelvis, head, arm, or leg
  • Constant fatigue or weakness
  • Frequent infections
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Spontaneous bleeding or easy bruising
  • Unexplained vision problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained nausea or persistent vomiting
  • Problems thinking or concentrating
  • Foamy urine
  • Unexpected spinal curvature or rapid loss of height
  • Unexplained chronic numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes
  • Sometimes, however, multiple myeloma is detected on blood tests in patients with no symptoms who visit the doctor for an unrelated reason.

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Prevention

  • There is no known way to prevent myeloma. A standard recommendation is to avoid the risk factors for the disease, but little is known concerning the risk factors for myeloma.

Outlook

  • The outlook for myeloma has somewhat improved over the past few decades as treatment has improved. However, the overall 5-year survival rate is about 30%, and nearly 11,000 people in the United States die of myeloma per year.
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