This section contains information for patients and relatives so they can understand their treatment and procedures better. Further information is available directly from our doctors and nurses.

Is Myeloma curable?

At present myeloma is still considered an incurable disease. However recent advances in both the diagnosis, monitoring of myeloma as well as treatments have meant that for an increasing number of myeloma patients, they are able to attain very good responses to treatment and also remain in remission for increasingly longer periods.
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There are constant advances and development of newer therapies for myeloma which means that we anticipate that the outcomes of myeloma patients will continue to improve over time.
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Our doctors will review your condition and the symptoms, if any, before creating a treatment plan suited to your needs.
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What are the first symptoms of Myeloma?

Many patients with myeloma may show no signs in the early stages, making early diagnosis challenging. However, some symptoms of multiple myeloma include bone pain or weakness, anaemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. 
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Another symptom of myeloma is high levels of calcium, which can lead to extreme thirst or dehydration, loss of appetite, weakness, constipation, and confusion. 
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The classical symptoms of myeloma can be remembered by the acronym CRAB:.

  • C – elevated calcium
  • R – renal (kidney) damage
  • A – Anaemia causing lack of energy or shortness of breath.
  • B – bone pains or fractures
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Where does Myeloma start?

Myeloma is a blood cancer that originates from cells within the bone marrow, known as plasma cells. Changes in the plasma cells’ DNA produces abnormal cells, and when these abnormal cells begin to multiply uncontrollably, this results in myeloma. 
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In some patients there will be a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) that precedes the development of myeloma. In MGUS, patients have no symptoms but they have plasma cells that produce an abnormal protein known as M-protein. Only 20% of patients with MGUS progress to myeloma. 
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Does Myeloma cause back pain?

Since myeloma can weaken a patient’s bone, it is not uncommon to experience pain in these affected bones – typically the neck, back, hips, or ribs. The pain experienced is often a dull, persistent ache that may be exacerbated by movement. 
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Patients with myeloma can experience back pain due to infiltration of the back bones (vertebrae) by the myeloma. Sometimes the myeloma can present as a mass which presses on the nerves in the spine causing discomfort. Myeloma can also result in weakness of the bones in the back, causing partial or complete collapse or fractures of the bones resulting in severe back pain as well.
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How fast does Myeloma progress?

Myeloma is often a slowly progressing disorder initially and in the initial phases patients may not notice any symptoms.
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However, some forms of more aggressive myeloma can be rapidly progressive, in particular in patients with heavily pretreated myeloma, or refractory forms of myeloma.

Does Myeloma cause tumors?

Myeloma is usually a liquid cancer involving plasma cells in the bone marrow and blood. a plasmacytoma. These tumours may present in the bone marrow, preventing the bone marrow from producing healthy cells. Sometimes these tumours may present in the spine, or in the chest wall (amongst other locations) and can cause symptoms due to the infiltration and pressure effects on surrounding nerves and organs.
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Plasmacytomas can sometimes present as isolated tumours without myeloma involvement in the bone marrow. These tumours are known as solitary plasmacytomas and our doctors may recommend radiation therapy to treat and manage these tumours.
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Patients who present with myeloma together with plasmacytomas will usually need targeted chemotherapy as well as possibly radiotherapy as treatment.
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What can mimic Myeloma?

At an early stage some of the symptoms of myeloma are non-specific and can often be mistaken for other conditions. For example, fractures of the spine may be thought to be due to osteoporosis. Anaemia, bone pain and kidney issues could be mistaken for other medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases or kidney disorders. Sometimes myeloma can be mistaken for other blood disorders such as leukaemia or lymphoma.
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Detailed blood tests, bone marrow and other specific investigations are often needed to ensure that the correct diagnosis of myeloma is made.
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Does Multiple Myeloma affect walking?

Since myeloma affects the bones, many patients experience weakness and pain. However, weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, can aid in strengthening the bones. Patients should always consult with our doctors before attempting a new workout routine and if they experience pain or notice a change in their symptoms.
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Who is most likely to get Multiple Myeloma?

Risk factors for multiple myeloma include age, race, gender, and exposure to chemicals and radiation. 
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Myeloma is found to occur most frequently in individuals over the age of 60, with the average age being 70. 
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Males are at a slightly high risk of developing myeloma.
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Blacks are also noted to have a higher risk of developing myeloma.
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If you have direct family who has had myeloma, then your risk is also slightly increased
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Finally, many patients will develop myeloma from an underlying predisposing condition known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). 
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What is the main cause of Multiple Myeloma?

While the exact cause of multiple myeloma is still unclear, doctors are able to understand that changes in the plasma cells can cause them to become cancerous. Myeloma, as with many other cancers, is caused by mutations in the DNA of cells. 
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Is Myeloma genetic?

While myeloma is not inherited in the same manner diseases such as breast cancer are, which is often from a single gene. There is a slightly higher occurrence of myeloma within family members when compared to the entire population, but presently, the inheritance pattern of myeloma is unknown. 
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Can Myeloma be detected through blood tests?

Yes, to detect and diagnose myeloma, our doctors will conduct a series of tests, including blood and urine tests, to identify an abnormal protein. This protein is known as the monoclonal protein or M-protein.
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Does Multiple Myeloma show up on X-Ray / MRI?

Both an x-ray and an MRI scan are often used to diagnose bone involvement by multiple myeloma. They may show features that are suggestive of myeloma involvement, however we cannot fully diagnose myeloma based on radiological changes alone.
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What is the FISH test for Multiple Myeloma?

A FISH test, or fluorescence in situ hybridisation test, is used to test for gene changes in cells. Our doctors may order a FISH test to look for specific changes in cells, indicating the presence of myeloma. This may include the production of a particular protein, an increased production of protein, or the lack of a specific protein.
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Is Myeloma easy to diagnose?

Multiple myeloma can prove challenging to diagnose as it often presents with little to no symptoms in the early stages. However, blood tests, bone marrow assessment and imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI/PET-CT scans can be used to clarify the diagnosis of myeloma.
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What are the 3 stages of Multiple Myeloma?

The most commonly used staging system for myeloma is the Revised International Staging System (R-ISS).
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The R-ISS divides myeloma into three stages. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 3 is more advanced.
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The stages are based on the results of various blood tests that check:

  • levels of beta-2 microglobulin (B2M) – a protein produced by myeloma cells that shows the extent of certain diseases
  • levels of albumin – a protein produced by the liver that is a sign of overall health
  • levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) – an enzyme released into the blood when cells are damaged or destroyed
  • genetic information – specific chromosomal abnormalities that identify people at risk of the disease progressing.
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How is Multiple Myeloma diagnosed?

There are multiple tests used in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma. These include blood and urine tests to check for M-protein and immunoglobulin levels. Other tests such as an x-ray, MRI, PET-CT scans may also be recommended by our doctor.
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Additionally, a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy may also be conducted to assess the amount of myeloma involvement in the bone marrow, as well as to analyse the genes in the myeloma through something known as fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) test. 
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These tests will allow our doctor to better understand your condition and determine the most suitable treatment plan for you. However, not all tests will be done for each patient. Our doctor will be able to explain which tests are recommended and why. 
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What is the most definitive test to confirm a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma can be confirmed by a combination of blood tests, bone marrow assessment. Sometimes if the myeloma presents as a tissue mass (known as a plasmacytoma) then a tissue biopsy of the affected site may be required.
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What happens if a Multiple Myeloma is left untreated?

If multiple myeloma is left untreated, it can lead to excess amounts of protein. This can eventually lead to kidney damage or failure, or other complications such bone involvement and fractures. If you are suffering from symptoms of myeloma, speak to our doctors and seek treatment early.
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How successful is treatment for Multiple Myeloma?

While there is, unfortunately, no cure for multiple myeloma currently, treatment such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy, amongst others, can be used to successfully manage the condition for years. 
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With the introduction of novel drug therapies, as well as the use of 3-4 drug combinations for upfront treatment of myeloma, the majority of newly diagnosed myeloma patients are able to achieve a partial or complete response to initial therapy.
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Many of these patients will eventually relapse over time. Treatment strategies such as the use of autologous stem cell transplantation, as well as the use of longer term maintenance therapy have been adopted successfully to delay the time to relapse (ie. prolong the disease free interval)  
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These approaches do not factor in variables such as age and overall health. Speak to our doctor for a better understanding of the success rates of your treatment plan. 
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How much does Myeloma treatment cost in Singapore?

The cost of myeloma therapy varies significantly depending on the drugs used for treatment, as well as whether additional therapies such as a bone marrow transplantation are needed.
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Factors such as disease stage, age of the patient and additional medical conditions (such as diabetes, or heart disease or kidney failure) all need to be considered in determining the most appropriate treatment for patients.
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Do speak to our doctors about your myeloma treatment plan and our team will help to advise on the treatment options as well as the costs of the treatment.
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What is the difference between Myeloma and Leukaemia?

While both myeloma and leukaemia are types of blood cancer, they affect different types of cells in the bone marrow causing different symptoms, presentations and outcomes.
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Myeloma is a cancer affecting a type of cells in the bone marrow known as plasma cells that usually produce proteins (immunoglobulins) that protect us from infections. Myeloma often presents with symptoms related to bone pain or fractures, kidney damage or other symptoms related to low immunity (infections etc) and also anaemia.
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Acute leukaemia is a blood cancer affecting the white cells in the body. Refer to the link to acute leukaemia for more information. 
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What is the life expectancy for someone with myeloma?

The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with myeloma depends on the stage of their myeloma, and in addition prognostic markers such as the presence of poor risk or good risk genetic abnormalities will influence the outcomes.
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The diagnosis and monitoring of myeloma during treatment has become increasingly sophisticated, and we are now able to detect presence of myeloma at very low levels in the bone marrow (known as detecting minimal residual disease – MRD). Patients who are able to attain MRD negativity with myeloma treatment have a significantly improved overall survival.
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In general, for myeloma patients at diagnosis, around 50% of patients will be alive and well at 5 years. However, these numbers do not factor in all variables, such as age and overall health. Additionally, treatment options for myeloma are continuously improving. Speak to our doctor for a better understanding of the success rates of your treatment plan. 
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Can you live a normal life with Myeloma?

Myeloma is a serious medical condition and the diagnosis and its associated symptoms often have an impact on the quality of life of patients.
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That being said, there have been significant improvements in the treatment of myeloma. Most initial treatments are outpatient based, with manageable side-effects, and many patients are able to continue with their daily activities. 
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Is exercise good for Myeloma?

Exercise is beneficial to one’s health in a multitude of ways. Patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma will find that weight-bearing activities such as walking and climbing stairs can aid in strengthening one’s bones. 
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However, patients should always consult with our doctors before taking on a new exercise routine and if they experience pain or a change in their symptoms. Often our team will advise that patients with myeloma bone disease initiate a phased exercise programme with a recommended physiotherapist.
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Is Myeloma the same as Lymphoma?

Myeloma and lymphoma are classified as two separate forms of blood cancer. Myeloma is a form of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow while lymphoma typically involves the lymph nodes and white cells known as lymphocytes.
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There are some similarities in the biology of the cancer cells between myeloma and lymphoma, hence some of the drugs used for the treatment of myeloma are also sometimes used in the treatment of forms of lymphoma.
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Can CLL lead to Myeloma?

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and myeloma are both closely related forms of blood cancer as both affect a form of white cells known as B-cells. CLL involves abnormalities in mature B-cells known as lymphocytes, while myeloma affects plasma cells in the bone marrow.
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CLL does not usually lead to myeloma, and likewise myeloma does not lead to CLL.
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Is Multiple Myeloma a solid or liquid tumour?

Myeloma is usually a liquid cancer involving plasma cells in the bone marrow and blood. a plasmacytoma. These tumours may present in the bone marrow, preventing the bone marrow from producing healthy cells. Sometimes these tumours may present in the spine, or in the chest wall (amongst other locations) and can cause symptoms due to the infiltration and pressure effects on surrounding nerves and organs.
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Plasmacytomas can sometimes present as isolated tumours without myeloma involvement in the bone marrow. These tumours are known as solitary plasmacytomas and our doctors may recommend radiation therapy to treat and manage these tumours.
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Patients who present with myeloma together with plasmacytomas will usually need targeted chemotherapy as well as possibly radiotherapy as treatment. 
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What is the proper diet for a patient with Myeloma?

There is no specific diet recommended for patients diagnosed with myeloma. However, patients should follow a healthy diet. This includes recommended servings of carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats. A well-rounded diet can aid patients with myeloma in keeping their energy and strength up.
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Is Multiple Myeloma painful?

Patients who have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma may experience pain related to the disease as myeloma can cause weakness in the bones or compression of nerves due to a tumour. Speak to our doctors if you experience any pain related to your condition.
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Disclaimer:
The information on the Centre For Clinical Haematology website is intended for educational use.  It should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health professional.
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WhatsApp : +65 9376 7221
Email : contact@cfch.com.sg
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Consultation Hours

Monday to Friday : 8.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday : 8.30am – 12.30pm
Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays

 

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Disclaimer | 2022 Centre For Clinical Haematology

Website Created by Cleveraa

Locations

Contact

WhatsApp : +65 9376 7221
Email : contact@cfch.com.sg
.

Consultation Hours

Monday to Friday : 8.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday : 8.30am – 12.30pm
Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays

Find us on Facebook

Drop a Line

If you have any questions about your condition or would like to make an appointment, simply fill up the form and we'll contact you as soon as we can

Disclaimer | 2022 Centre For Clinical Haematology | Website Created by Cleveraa